Coach Bob Boldon shrugged his shoulders when asked if Ohio had rebounded from its poor offensive performance – a loss to Toledo — last Wednesday.
The Bobcats bounced back with a 70-56 win against Western Michigan on Saturday at The Convo, but Boldon wasn’t sure if “rebound” was the best term to use for the Bobcats’ offensive performance that followed its dreadful 50 points, a season-low, from its loss against the Rockets.
If Saturday’s performance was how Ohio was going to respond in the games following Wednesday, Boldon won’t be happy.
“I hope this isn’t us bouncing back,” Boldon said. “I hope not. If so, we’re in a lot of trouble next week.”
Ohio shot 45 percent (28-for-62), just above its season average of 44 percent, from the field against Western Michigan, who had the No. 6-ranked defense in the Mid-American Conference.
The Bobcats might have done enough to slip by the Broncos, but the way their offense found success Saturday won’t be sustainable as they finish their last five games of the regular season.
Ohio separated itself from WMU with a 25-point second quarter that started after Broncos’ forward Jasmyn Walker air-balled a 3-pointer into the hands of Olivia Bower. Bower quickly passed the ball to Dominique Doseck, who raced down the court and drew a foul on a successful layup attempt.
She made the free throw to give Ohio a 17-16 lead, which it never lost, and spark a 15-2 scoring run. The dominant sequence wouldn’t have been possible, however, if Ohio’s defense didn’t capitalize on similar shooting and ball-handling errors from WMU’s No. 12-ranked offense.
The Broncos’ errors were ultimately what helped the Bobcats’ offense the most. The miscues provided the Bobcats with enough opportunities to convert layups and 3-pointers and handily win the game, and Ohio’s defense deserves credit for bottling up WMU’s inconsistent offense.
“Our defense is always where our energy starts,” forward Gabby Burris said. “As soon as someone gets a steal, just the ball pressure and everything that is a part of our defense just brings more energy, and it translates into the offensive end.”
Ohio scored 24 points off 21 forced turnovers, 10 of which occurred in the second quarter, and fastbreak sequences like the one Bower and Doseck created to start the second quarter remained prevalent the rest of the game.
The actual image of shots falling helped alleviate some of the offensive pressure Ohio felt after its 11-point first quarter that looked too similar to the Toledo loss.
“Sometimes just seeing the ball go through the basket, even if it’s just an uncontested layup, helps a little bit,” Boldon said. “I thought that helped us on a night where we didn’t really shoot it well again. At least we got some layups and shot it well from that range.”
But the Bobcats likely won’t play a game with as many fastbreak opportunities the rest of the season. They certainly won’t expect it from Kent State or Buffalo, the two teams behind the Bobcats in second place of the East Division.
Ohio only defeated Kent State and Buffalo by two and three points, respectively, in their previous meetings and will likely struggle to keep pace with the divisional foes without a more stable offense. But the Bobcats can now look forward to their bye week, which entails not playing a game on Wednesday for the first time since December.
Boldon said he wants Ohio to spend a significant amount of the extra time on shooting, which has suddenly become a weak spot on a team that has spent the majority of the season with the No. 1-ranked offense in the MAC.
“We’re all looking forward to next week,” Boldon said. “We need some time. We haven’t shot the ball particularly well, so we’re going to get shots up on a number of those days.”
The sudden offensive slump isn’t a large concern, however, to Dominique Doseck and Burris. They offered the same reaction as Boldon — a shrug, only they were asked if the recent state of the offense worried them.
“We’ll work our way through it,” Doseck said.