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Ohio’s Erica Johnson shoots the ball over Toledo’s Soleil Barnes during the Bobcats’ match in The Convo on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020.

Women's Basketball: Erica Johnson explodes for 31 in the Bobcats revenge win over Toledo

In the locker room minutes before Ohio was set to tip-off against Toledo, Erica Johnson delivered a pregame history lesson about the last time the Bobcats faced the Golden Rockets. 

“I think they beat us by 26 (points),“ Johnson said, “so my pregame speech was to beat them by 27.”

Johnson may have set the mark, but the Bobcats exceeded it.

Behind a 31-point performance from its star guard, Ohio defeated Toledo 86-58 Wednesday night at The Convo. The 28-point blowout gave the Bobcats (17-7, 10-3 Mid-American Conference) their fourth-straight win. 

Wednesday’s night showed that Ohio is one of the hottest teams in the MAC. The Bobcats have won eight of their last nine games, and they feel like this incline will continue to rise. 

“We know it's coming down to crunch time,” Johnson said. “Things are getting involved like a (first round) bye, so we’re just locked in and doing what we need to do.” 

Ohio did what it needed to do to take down the Rockets (11-13, 6-7 MAC). The Bobcats responded well to Toledo’s physical play with efficient 3-point shooting (45.2% from 3-point range) and a stingy defense. 

Coach Bob Boldon felt like it was one of the more complete games the Bobcats have played this season, even though they didn’t start the game and dominantly as it ended. 

In the first half, Ohio didn’t shoot well. The Bobcats missed their first four 3-point attempts and, for the third game in a row, Cece Hooks was in early foul trouble. 

“The refs just keep bailing me out, they’re coming for me,” Hooks said while laughing. 

Despite the lightheartedness after the game, Ohio’s slim 35-31 lead at the half wasn’t funny.

Ohio took over in the second half. Hooks and Johnson took the reigns of the offense and took it to the Golden Rockets defensively. With 3:50 remaining in the third quarter, Ohio led Toledo by two points. Hooks hit a 3-pointer from the near corner to extend the lead. 

That shot ended up sparking the run that decided the game. 

After Hooks’ 3-pointer, Ohio went on a 14-0 run to end the quarter. Up 16 points entering the fourth, Ohio in past games has tended to ease off the pressure. With Toledo, however, a mix of last year's blowout loss and some ill-advised trash talk only made things worse for the Rockets. 

“They were talking stuff while they were getting smacked,” Hooks said. 

Fourth quarter mercy was not on the pair of guard's minds in the fourth. Johnson continued to shoot 3-pointers — she finished 8-for-11 from 3-point range — and hunted for a triple-double, while Hooks drove to the lane and finished with defenders draped around her back. 

By the time the duo stepped off the court with 4:16 remaining, Hooks (20 points) and Johnson (31 points) had shown once again why they should be considered the best backcourt in the conference.

“At some point, there’s a story to be told about how well those two coexist with each other,” Bob Boldon said. “You’ve seen plenty of professionals not able to coexist with another person who’s really good on his or her team, and we’re watching two 20-year-olds coexist.

“Not only coexist but excel.”  

What’s next

Ohio will be back in action on Saturday when it travels to Akron. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m.

@JL_Kirven 

jk810916@ohio.edu

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