CLEVELAND — Taylor Agler went through the handshake line and walked off the floor at Quicken Loans Arena, wearing her Ohio uniform for possibly the final time.
Seconds before, she had a chance to tie the game for Ohio on Wednesday. She had a decent look at a 3-point shot, which seemed to be in the air for an eternity. But the ball bounced off the backboard and fell to the floor as the horn in the arena bellowed. The 5,550-square foot jumbotron showed jubilation from the Miami players and read:
Miami 69, Ohio 66.
“We have a really good team, and we usually make those shots,” Agler said. “So there's nothing more than to keep creating those shots.”
On the possession before, Agler created one of those shots. She drove the right baseline to the basket and kicked the ball out to an open Katie Barker. Barker missed a 3-point shot, and the Bobcats had to foul.
Although the possessions didn’t result in tying — or winning — the game for the Bobcats, Agler’s potential final showing for Ohio was as impressive as her last two weeks. They’ve shown that she was not only capable of leading the team all season, but also carrying the Bobcats when she needed to. That load increased when Cierra Hooks, Ohio’s leading scorer, injured her ankle against Miami on Feb. 28.
“(Agler's) oftentimes being less aggressive so that our young kids can be more aggressive,” coach Bob Boldon said. “And she was passing on things to get them involved. When (Hooks) got hurt, I think she just became more aggressive because that was what was needed.”
Against Miami, Agler had a season-high 18 points, 11 of which came in the first half. She added five assists, too. She was aggressive, driving to the basket, scoring when she needed to and kicking the ball out to open Bobcats when she could.
Agler was the lone senior on an Ohio roster littered with youth. Her role was much different this season than last; Agler had to become the rock for the Bobcats. When Amani Burke and Cierra Hooks, two of Ohio’s best two-way players, both fouled out in the second half, Agler was tasked with guarding Miami’s best player, Lauren Dickerson. On top of that, she had to guide the Ohio offense.
It was quite a load, and Agler carried it. That’s what seniors do. Agler decided at the beginning of the year it was her time to show the young roster how to be an Ohio Bobcat, and she did it.
“Taylor could have demanded the ball more and said, 'well, I'm going to score, I'm a senior,'” Boldon said. “But that's not Taylor's personality.”
And as Agler sat in her press conference, she was asked about the possible end of her career just minutes after the game. She gathered herself, as most veterans are able to do, and she answered.
It wasn’t long into her answer that she began to choke up. She reflected on what it was like to lead the Bobcats throughout the season, into the MAC Tournament and against Miami one last time — for now.
“I'm happy with how we performed because we exceeded expectations from the outside,” Agler said. “But we also didn't exceed our expectations from the inside. I know our team and our coaching staff expected a lot more than what we put out this year, and we were very capable of doing more than we did this year.”