Over the course of its undefeated start to this season, Ohio has had six players dominate the box score and fuel the offense. No opponent has been able to contain the Bobcats for four quarters.
In Ohio’s 87-62 win over Coppin State, however, an uncommon name appeared at the top of the Bobcats’ stat sheet — Kendall Jessing.
The senior had been a frequent bench option for coach Bob Boldon, but she was one of the most consistent players on the court Saturday at The Convo. Jessing scored a career-high 14 points, never missed a field goal and was 4-for-6 from the free-throw line to help boost the Bobcats’ scorching offense.
“I didn’t know it was a career-high,“ Jessing said with a smile. “But it’s cool. I guess senior year, I’m just trying to play my best basketball every time I get on the court. It was a confidence booster for me, I think.”
Jessing played only 14 minutes off the bench on Saturday, but unlike several of Ohio’s starters, she took no time to find an offensive rhythm that worked.
She played her first minutes as a substitute for Amani Burke with 1:17 left in the first quarter, and she immediately stepped up to the free-throw line. She sunk one of her two free throws before making a layup, a shot that other Ohio players missed four times in the first quarter, to help keep the score even at 13.
Jessing’s fast and productive start helped ensure the Bobcats, who made just five shots in 14 attempts in the first quarter, would at least be even on the scoreboard with Coppin State. The Eagles entered Saturday without a win, but the Bobcats played down to their level in the first quarter.
Ohio needed someone to step up, and although her time on the court was brief, Jessing took the step.
“We’re really good when we play fast and when we play at our full tempo,“ she said. “Even when we go 90 percent instead of 100 percent, it really takes us out of our swing of things. Our tempo was down the first half, and it really caught us off guard.”
Jessing continued to be one of Ohio’s biggest contributors in the spare time Boldon gave her. She mostly played in the first and last few minutes of each quarter. After Ohio’s offense finally found its flow with 34 points in the third quarter, Jessing’s consistency helped protect Ohio’s widening scoring margin.
When Jessing played last season — she started 25 games in 2017-18 — she lacked shooting consistency. She averaged only 2.6 points per game and was never one of Ohio’s top offensive weapons, but Boldon won’t forget the impact she had to help keep Ohio’s undefeated record alive on Saturday.
“Kendall was our best player today,“ Boldon said. “It was nice to see her stretch out and make some shots. That’s what she struggled with last year, just consistently making shots. She showed today that's he could do that. She gave us good energy, and it kept us in the game.”
Jessing may have awarded herself more playing time in the future, and if Boldon decided to call on her again to give Ohio’s offense a boost, she’ll be ready.
“It felt good,“ Jessing said. “You never know when your opportunity is going to come, and I guess for me today, it was my opportunity.”