Ohio put its unblemished record on the line in The Convo on Wednesday night when it welcomed Big Ten foe Purdue for the second of a three-game homestand.
While the performance was far from perfect, the Bobcats left the court with their perfect record still intact, defeating the Boilermakers 80-73 thanks to a career-high 31-point performance from Cece Hooks.
Ohio defeated Purdue 77-71 last season in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Bobcats knew coming in that the Boilermakers would seek revenge.
The Bobcats struggled early. Purdue found a way to take away two key components of the Bobcats offense: driving and shooting. The Boilermakers bullied Ohio when the Bobcats tried to drive to the basket. Purdue blocked the Bobcats six times in the first quarter and quickly drew three fouls on shooting guard Amani Burke, Ohio’s best shooter.
Ohio coach Bob Boldon brought his team together at the end of the first quarter and seemed to speak life into it.
The Bobcats came out in the second quarter and swiftly stole the momentum from the Boilermakers with three quick 3-pointers, one from Gabby Burris and two from Dominique Doseck. Despite Burke sitting on the bench in deep foul trouble, the Bobcats were still hitting 3-pointers and playing good defense.
Ohio harnessed its momentum and turned it into a 13-1 run, dominating the Boilermakers into halftime and entering the locker room ahead 41-26.
The Bobcats came out for the second half and opened with two more 3-pointers from Burris and Doseck, but their good fortune ran into a concerning problem: they were in foul trouble.
Early in the second half, Hooks, Burke and Doseck each had three fouls. Hooks and Doseck — who each had 14 points — were who led the Bobcats’ offense, and there was a feeling that if either fouled out, the Bobcats’ momentum would leave with them.
At the end of the third, Ohio clutched to an eight-point lead, but the Boilermakers were back in the game.
That was until Hooks stepped back onto the court.
The reigning Mid-American Conference Freshman of the year went on a six-point scoring run headlined by an intercepted pass that she turned into an easy layup.
Still, the Boilermakers wouldn’t quit. With under four minutes to play, Ohio led by eight and was playing conservatively while the Boilermakers had just fouled out Doseck. The Bobcats needed a closer, and again Hooks stepped up.
Hooks played her game and drove to the basket. She didn’t have a foul to give, and she didn’t care. She got to the free-throw line, and as her 11th free throw attempt dropped in, she had a new career-high in points, finishing with 31.
The Bobcats are off to their best start since 2016 and will return to The Convo on Saturday to face Coppin State.