It’s been a long time since Bobcats had something to smile about.
In the wake of Ohio’s four-game losing streak, the Bobcats’ control of the Mid-American Conference East Division was lost, a crucial first-round bye in the MAC Tournament disappeared and the overall good vibes of the team seemed lost.
But on Saturday, Ohio’s nightmare ended.
“It’s been a long two weeks,” Ohio coach Bob Boldon said. “It just feels good to win.”
The Bobcats were all smiles during a 92-78 blowout win over Miami at The Convo. The win was highlighted by Amani Burke’s breakout performance on senior day, Gabby Burris scoring her 1,000th point and one of the best defensive stretches of the season.
The win brought out feelings the Bobcats haven’t felt in a long time. This season was weighed down by unfulfilled expectations. Ohio felt free again and finally could enjoy playing basketball.
“We had so much fun today,” Burke said. “It was just way more special because we were getting excited for each other.”
Ohio’s fun picked up right before halftime. After a sluggish start to the game, Ohio went on a 12-2 run to end the first half with an 11-point lead. During the stretch, Burke and Burris were heating up, but Boldon was most excited about how well his defense was playing.
“The defense in the first half was phenomenal,” Boldon said.
In the second half, it was all offense. Burke opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer, and Gabby Burris locked in on a personal milestone.
At the half, Burris was 12 points away from her 1,000th career point. With the encouragement of her teammates, she knew it was a possibility.
“I heard everybody screaming, and I was like, ‘What’s going on? What’s going on?’” Burke said.
Burris scored her 1,000th point with 47 seconds left in the third quarter. The Convo crowd leapt out of their seats for the junior forward.
“I’m really celebrating each other’s success individually and as a team,” Burris said.
It seemed like everyone in an Ohio uniform had a reason to cheer. Guard Cece Hooks led the Bobcats with 24 points, Erica Johnson hit a highlight-reel halfcourt shot at the buzzer and the Bobcats got back into the winner’s column before the postseason.
Ohio will be back in action Wednesday. Following the win, Ohio got some help from Ball State. After the Cardinals beat Western Michigan in overtime, Ohio jumped back into the fourth spot.
Saturday was exactly what Ohio needed. The win essentially washed two weeks of sadness away, and the Bobcats are now re-energized and ready to make a run for the title.