It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win.
Ohio beat Akron 70-57 Wednesday night in The Convo to grab its fourth straight victory. Despite the end result being a blowout, Ohio was on its heels early against the Zips.
“I thought they showed a lot of toughness,” Ohio coach Bob Boldon said. “...when you’re not scoring and you’re missing the shots that we were missing, it’s hard to kind of stay in it, but I thought they did a good job of staying in it.”
Nothing was going right for the Bobcats in the first half. Star guard Erica Johnson was benched for most of the first quarter after two early fouls, and her backcourt mate Cece Hooks’ predicament was no better. She was also dealing with foul trouble and failed finishes at the rim.
Ohio trailed by six points when Johnson first made her way to the bench, and Akron’s energy was high. The Zips were hitting their shots and Ohio’s offense looked broken. It wasn’t feeling like the Bobcats kind of night. If they were going to win, they were going to have to lock in, and somebody was going to have to show up.
Enter freshman Peyton Guice.
With Johnson out and Hooks struggling, Guice was the jolt Ohio (13-6, 6-2 Mid-American Conference) needed to wake up before halftime. The 5-foot-11 guard played tough defense and scored efficiently. Her eight points off the bench were a career-high and a major turning point in the game as Ohio entered halftime only down 34-32.
“I just try to bring as much energy to the court in any way,” Guice said. “Whether it be scoring, playing defense, moving the basketball, setting screens whatever I had to do to help better our team was my biggest goal when I got out there.”
Guice’s whatever-it-takes attitude was infectious in the second half. Ohio honed in defensively and held the Zips to eight points in the third quarter. Hooks and Johnson, despite their foul trouble, attacked the rim more, but it was senior Amani Burke who added more pressure on Akron (9-10, 2-6 MAC).
“I’m not the type of player who’s like ‘Give me the ball and let me take over,’” said Burke, who led all scorers with 20 points. “I was just trying to go out there and see how I could get us to play together.”
Burke’s emergence boded well with Hooks’ 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists. After a rough start to the game Ohio was in control entering the fourth quarter and never let up.
Wednesday night was a positive sign for the Bobcats. The MAC is more than just Central Michigan and Buffalo. The rest of the conference is a tough go any night, but Ohio showed that it could take a shot and walk it off.
“It builds character,” Guice said “It helps us in the long run because games aren’t going to be a clean four quarters. Being able to push through adversity only helps us grow as individual people on and off the court.”