Ohio has seven games left in its regular season, and, since Mid-American Conference play began, the Bobcats have encountered test after test.
The Bobcats are coming off a 74-72 home loss against Central Michigan, and they allowed the Chippewas to go on a 10-2 run to begin the fourth quarter. With three minutes to go, the Bobcats were down by 10 points. Still, because of being in situations like that earlier in the season, the Bobcats were able to stay in the game and even be in position to win.
The Bobcats will play Kent State on the road Saturday at 2 p.m. The Golden Flashes aren’t the Chippewas, the lone undefeated team in the conference. But like any school in the conference, the Golden Flashes aren’t to be overlooked.
Ohio is in the middle of perhaps the hardest stretch of its schedule. The Bobcats are 2-2 in their last four games: beating Northern Illinois and Ball State but falling to Miami and Central Michigan.
After Ohio lost against Miami on Jan. 27, it had a bye week. But during that week, Amani Burke and Taylor Agler’s statuses changed.
Burke didn’t play against Ball State because of an illness, and, though Agler played against Ball State, she has come off the bench the past two games because of an injury.
“A lot of people use the bye week to help, and we did the exact opposite with it,” coach Bob Boldon said after the Central Michigan game.
The Cardinals and Chippewas are two of the top-tier offenses in the MAC, but Ohio held both teams under their scoring averages. Both teams average a few points over 80 per game.
The Bobcats didn’t get the win against the Chippewas, but among all of the Chippewas’ MAC opponents, the Bobcats posted the smallest point margin Wednesday night. Before, the Chippewas’ smallest margin of victory was three points, which came during their game against Northern Illinois on Jan. 17.
“I thought through both games, we showed a lot of mental toughness,” Boldon said.
That mental toughness is something the Bobcats have been steadily acquiring as the season has gone on. They’ll need that mental toughness as they prepare for the Golden Flashes and beyond. If the Bobcats lose Saturday, then it’ll be the first time they’ve lost two straight games since Dec. 16 and 17, when they lost to Furman and Virginia in the West Palm Invitational.
Further, in terms of possible situations, the Bobcats have experienced most of them.
They came back from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter against Akron on Jan. 6 — Agler made the game-winning layup and free throw. Despite having a bad shooting night at home against Buffalo, Ohio only lost to the Bulls by four points. Agler shot a 3-pointer with under 50 seconds left that would have given Ohio the lead.
Cierra Hooks got the game-winning steal and layup as Ohio defeated NIU in the final seconds. The win against Ball State showed the Bobcats’ depth; Agler and Dominique Doseck fouled out in the second half. Also, Burke didn’t play.
Still, the loss against Central Michigan marks a spot in which the Bobcats have a chance to continue building upon their season as the MAC Tournament is about a month away.
"I'm happy with where we are," Boldon said after the Chippewas game. "Disappointed with this one. This hurts a little bit. But we've certainly shown some maturity."