The Bobcats played their most complete defensive game of the season Saturday.
In their 78-41 victory over Incarnate Word, the Bobcats played with aggression on defense. Highlighted by 19 steals, Ohio’s ability to interrupt passing lanes and closing on the Cardinals when they had possession made it easy for Ohio to earn takeaways.
The Bobcats’ defense exceeded coach Bob Boldon’s expectations Saturday in terms of their production.
“We’d be happy if we just forced 19 turnovers, let alone 19 of them being steals,” Boldon said. “It’s kids watching tape and being in the right spot and then making plays. That’s good to see as you’re measuring the development of your team.”
Ohio forced 27 total turnovers. When it didn’t force turnovers, it applied pressure to force Incarnate Word into bad looks.
Pressure was the key to the defensive performance for Ohio. It forced bad passes and stripped the ball from Incarnate Word early in the first quarter, and that set the tone for the rest of the game.
“We got a majority of the steals that we should always get,” Deesh Beck said. “We played at the (3-point) line like how we were supposed to.”
The Bobcats’ strong defensive effort helped them on the other side of the court. Ohio turned those turnovers into 32 points.
Boldon has talked to the Bobcats all season of the importance of defense. It has been a weakness of the team early in the season, but after struggling in the win over American on Nov. 10, the Bobcats’ defensive play has improved.
“We got exposed defensively against American,” Boldon said. “We cleaned it up against Marshall and then played a really good game against Ohio State. Today, it was good to see our kids from top to bottom come out and compete and make plays.”
Along with forcing turnovers, Ohio did not allow many clean looks, holding Incarnate Word to a 31.3 shooting percentage on the game. Ohio’s ability to contain the Cardinals’ offense showed since through three quarters, as it only allowed 27 points.
For the Bobcats, that comes as a result of repeated work in practice and being able to execute in the games.
“Coach really emphasizes doing the little things defensively,” Abby Garnett said. “We’ve seen where we take a possession off, and that can really hurt us. So it’s about doing your job and playing your role and doing the little things correctly.”