Ohio’s reign atop the Mid-American Conference was short-lived.
Four days after they defeated Central Michigan to claim the conference’s first seed, the Bobcats had their worst game of the season Wednesday in their 76-50 loss to Toledo. Ohio scored its lowest output of the season and only led for 38 seconds in the first quarter before it fell into a 39-minute slump that led to its first road loss of the season.
Here are three takeaways from the defeat:
Lack of offense
The versatility that separated Ohio’s No. 1-ranked offense from the rest of the MAC was nowhere to be found Wednesday.
The Bobcats were 2-for-26 from 3-point range and shot 24 percent (18-for-75) from the field in their lowest scoring game since Jan. 30, . That game included a ghastly three-point fourth quarter, but there were no such anomalies in the box score on Wednesday.
Ohio’s points were limited to layups from Cece Hooks, who led the Bobcats with 21 points. Dominique Doseck, typically Ohio’s leader in 3-pointers, was 0-for-7 in that category, and Erica Johnson, who scored four points, finished in single digits for only the third time in conference play.
It will most likely be an outlier performance for what has been a record-breaking season for Ohio’s potent offense, but it will still concern coach Bob Boldon as his team heads into the last three weeks of the regular season.
Struggles against the top defenses
After Wednesday’s loss to the No. 1 ranked defense in the MAC, Ohio is 2-2 against the top 4 defensive teams in the conference. The Bobcats lost to No. 2 Miami, narrowly defeated No. 3 Kent State by two points and had no issues with No. 4 Eastern Michigan.
Ohio blew a chance to prove that it can dominate a team with a stout defense. The Bobcats are still certainly capable of that, but their chances at making a deep run in the MAC Tournament could take a hit if it sees a mid-seeded team with a quality defense in the early rounds.
What it means
Ohio dropped into second place behind Miami in the East Division and face a tougher path toward a coveted top-4 seed — which guarantees a first-round bye — in the MAC Tournament.
Miami, Central Michigan, Buffalo and Toledo are all within two games of each other in the standings, and the Bobcats risk sliding to the fifth seed with another loss in their final six games. Three of those opponents include Buffalo, Kent State and Miami — the three teams packed around Ohio in the East Division.
The Bobcats will likely have to lose two more games for a top-4 seed to legitimately be at risk, but the additional cushion they could have received from defeating Toledo will be missed over the final three weeks of the regular season.