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Gabby Burris (#41) saves the ball from going out with heavy defense from Emma Bockrath (#10) during the Bobcats' home game on Thursday, March 21, 2019.

Women's Basketball: Ohio can push program records against Western Kentucky in WNIT

Ohio’s already established itself as one of the best teams in program history.

The Bobcats have broken personal and team records on a semi-weekly basis since November, and Ohio will have the opportunity to break a few more Thursday when it hosts Western Kentucky in the Round of 16 of the WNIT in The Convo at 7 p.m.

A win would make the Bobcats the winningest team in the history of Ohio basketball. No men’s nor women’s team has reached 30 wins in a single year, and the Bobcats can cement themselves as one of the best team in school history if they advance to the WNIT Round of 8, which also has never been accomplished in the history of Ohio women’s basketball.

“I think it’d be really special,“ coach Bob Boldon said. “It’s been a special team. It’s been a special ride. You get the sense that there’s still more out there, and it’s my job to push them to achieve it.”

The Bobcats fell short of their two main goals every Mid-American Conference team has at the beginning of their year; they didn’t win the MAC Championship, and they didn’t clinch a NCAA Tournament berth. 

Ohio still felt the pain from barely missing the NCAA Tournament when it started the WNIT last Thursday. But after two wins in the postseason tournament, the Bobcats have put their full attention on winning the WNIT and solidifying what they believed 10 days ago — they belonged in the NCAA Tournament.

Each win, however, has pushed those frustrations farther away, and the records are a bonus. The Bobcats became the winningest team in program history when they defeated High Point in the first round of the WNIT last Thursday, and they can be remembered as the winningest basketball team in Ohio basketball history with a win against Western Kentucky.

A 30th win would stand out when Ohio looks back on this season, but the Bobcats want to make Thursday’s game just another step toward the highest achievement they can achieve this year — a WNIT Championship.

“I think there’s still stuff to be done,“ Boldon said. “I think we certainly have a one game at a time approach, but I think we’ll be disappointed if we don’t win the championship.”

Game Information 

Opponent: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (20-14, 11-5 Conference USA)

Time: 7 p.m. 

Venue: The Convo

Watch: ESPN3

Listen: Ohio IMG Sports Network 

Ohio’s Opponent 

PROJECTED STARTERS 

Dee Givens (6-foot-1)

Reneem Elgedawy (6-foot-4)

Alexis Brewer (5-foot-9)

Meral Abdelgawad (5-foot-11)

Whitney Creech (5-foot-8)

RESERVES 

Arame Niang (6-foot-3)

Sherry Porter (5-foot-7)

Sidnee Bopp (5-foot-6)

Terri Smith (5-foot-7)

Individual stat leaders

Points per game: Givens (17.8 ppg)

Rebounds per game: Elgedawy (7.7 rpg)

Assists per game: Creech (3.3 apg)

Steals: Givens (98)

Field goal percentage: Elgedawy (52.8)

3-point percentage: Givens (40.6)

Free throw percentage: Givens (86.0)

Team stats 

Points per game: 72.9

Rebounds per game: 32.2

Steals per game: 9.4

Field goal percentage: 44.9 percent

3-point percentage: 34.6 percent

Free throw percentage: 71.2 percent

Series history

The last time the Bobcats played the Hilltoppers was in 1994. Ohio is 0-6 all-time against Western Kentucky.

Key player 

Givens — Ohio will have to contain Givens, who is Western Kentucky’s biggest threat in the paint and behind the arc, more than any other player Thursday night. If the Bobcats are stuck in a close game with the Hilltoppers, they’ll have to be careful at keeping Givens away from the foul line — she’s 30th in the nation in free-throw percentage.

@anthonyp_2

ap012215@ohio.edu

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