Erica Johnson took the ball up the left side of the floor in transition and zipped it up to Cece Hooks about 25 feet in front of her, threading the needle behind a defender. The quick connection was one the Bobcats were searching for all game Saturday afternoon.
“I knew she was going to throw it,” Hooks said.
That play was an early dagger to Kent State’s hopes of an upset as the Bobcats continued their dominance over the Mid-American Conference East Division in the 63-57 win.
One of the contributing factors to Ohio’s success is Johnson’s growth in the offense both as a scorer and a passer. Johnson feels like the passing part of her game is one of her most underrated qualities.
“I definitely do,” Johnson said. “I love the pass. That’s one of my favorite things in the game.”
In the first half, however, Johnson had to do a lot of the shooting. Three Ohio players, including Hooks, had to sit in the second quarter with three fouls, leaving the scoring to Johnson. She rose to the occasion with 13 of her game-high 22 points in the first half.
“Most teams can’t absorb Cece getting into foul trouble as well as we can,” coach Bob Boldon said. “Erica offensively was fantastic in the first half, and kind of carried us through some times when Cece wasn’t on the floor.”
While Johnson was a force offensively, the Bobcats were hurting on the other side of the ball without their best defender and ended the half losing by six. It could’ve been much worse, though, as Ohio allowed Kent State to shoot over 50% in the second quarter while only shooting 23.1% itself.
The return and resurgence of Hooks came almost immediately in the second half as she scored her first four points of the game and the Bobcats erased the halftime deficit in just three minutes.
As Hooks started to settle back in, it wasn’t until she started making an impact defensively when she felt most comfortable.
It was clear that she was back when she ripped the ball from a Kent State player, who was gathering a defensive rebound, and passed it off to Peyton Guice, the only other player from either team in the area.
That was just one of her five steals, more than the Golden Flashes had as a team.
After that Ohio (15-7, 8-3 MAC) cruised as the combination of Johnson and Hooks tore apart Kent State.
The duo will have a week to relax now as the Bobcats go into their bye week. Ohio takes the court next at Miami for the Battle of the Bricks on Saturday Feb. 15.