OXFORD — Ohio had more at stake Wednesday in its rematch against Miami than it’s had in any game this season.
A win would clinch the Bobcats first-round bye in the Mid-American Conference Tournament, and Bob Boldon would become the winningest coach in program history. Ohio accomplished both in its 70-66 win over Miami at Millett Hall and snapped its four-game losing streak against its East Division archrival.
It was far from easy, though. The Bobcats appeared to be in line for an easy win after they built a 40-17 lead at halftime. They held Lauren Dickerson — who led Miami with 16 points per game but entered Wednesday with that amount of points in her last two games — to no points in the first half.
But everything changed in the second half. Miami stormed back with 27 points, 12 from Dickerson, in the third quarter, and the Bobcats’ lead diminished entirely when the RedHawks tied the game at 55 with six minutes remaining.
Ohio managed to stay in front of Miami thanks to timely free-throw shooting. Cece Hooks and Erica Johnson went a combined 7-for-9 at the foul line in the fourth quarter, and the Bobcats pushed their lead to 65-58 when Dominique Doseck made two crucial free throws with two minutes left.
Ohio breathed a little relief after Johnson grabbed a defensive rebound with 32 seconds left. Miami didn’t immediately foul Johnson, and six or seven key seconds were drained from the clock.
Those seconds made a difference after Dickerson made a 3 with four seconds left, but the Bobcats hung on for a win when Amani Burke made both free throws after she was fouled on the next sequence.
Ohio won’t be pleased with its 13 fouls and 29 percent shooting percentage in the second half, but it can finally exhale. The Bobcats won’t have to worry about playing an extra game Monday at home, and they can set their sights on Cleveland for what should be one of the most competitive MAC tournaments in recent years.
Ohio returns to The Convo on Saturday to play its final regular season game against Bowling Green. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m and can be watched on ESPN+.