After Ohio’s win over American on Sunday at The Convo, redshirt sophomore Caitlyn Kroll identified the biggest area of concern for the Bobcats through three regular season games.
“We’ve got to be better defensively,” she said.
Kroll’s message was put into action Wednesday night as Ohio allowed just 16 points in the second half in its 67-51 win against Marshall in The Convo.
Junior Cece Hooks led the defensive charge with six steals as the Bobcats shut down the Thundering Herd’s offense that scored 89 and 75 points in their last two games.
“My momma told me that since I won defensive player of the year, I had to pick it up and play like defensive player of the year,” Hooks said. “And that’s what I’ve been doing”
The reigning Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year also had six steals against Syracuse, and her coach has taken notice.
“This is absurd,” coach Bob Boldon said. “I don’t think you understand how absurd that is. There are teams that have six steals. She’s played three basketball games and she’s had six steals in two of them.”
Hooks’ defensive performance forced Marshall to take poor shots, especially in the fourth quarter when Marshall went 1-of-10 from the field and scored just three points. It also forced The Herd into bad passes, which created 20 turnovers for Ohio.
The Bobcats turned defense into offense and scored 23 points off those turnovers.
Katie Barker led the offense with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting from 3-point range. Barker’s performance meant a little more to her than usual — she put up double-digits for the first time this season after missing almost the entirety of last season due to injury.
“I think that’s been a really big struggle for me through the summer and through this offseason is just gaining my confidence back,” Barker said. “Getting back on the court with Cece and Erica [Johnson] and getting their passes back in my hand and getting the shots off. So, to see them looking for me, and for them to have confidence in me and for me to have confidence in myself, it was really big.”
Barker’s confidence comes at the perfect time for Ohio as they prepare to face Ohio State on Sunday.
The Buckeyes have been scoring at a high rate with 89 points in their season opener against Valparaiso. The Bobcats will need to counter that with a strong offensive performance from Barker and perhaps an even stronger defensive performance from Hooks.
They believe they are ready.
“I’m excited because they’ve been talking a lot of trash,“ Hooks said. “So they just better be ready for us.”