The sand is running out of Ohio’s hourglass.
Wednesday’s 81-77 loss at Kent State was Ohio’s fourth in a row. Two weeks ago, the Bobcats had a MAC East Division title and a first-round bye in the tournament nearly secured.
Now, Ohio’s left with no bye, no title and almost no time left to fix its biggest problem.
“We haven’t been a good defensive team all year,” coach Bob Boldon said.
Ohio’s defense is the reason for its longest losing streak since 2014. Career-high nights from Cece Hooks (41 points at Akron) and Erica Johnson (36 points at Kent State) still weren’t enough to overcome the Bobcats’ defensive issues.
Boldon has harped on his defense all season, but the Bobcats seem more lost than ever.
“From a coaching standpoint, something I’m disappointed with is that I never got us to be a really good defensive team,” Boldon said. “That’s frustrating because it’s something that we try to address and try to improve.”
Boldon wouldn’t even let his team take a shot the day after allowing 82 points against Bowling Green. Sprints up and down The Convo’s court and defensive drills during the entirety of practice were Boldon’s last-ditch effort to unlock Ohio’s defensive potential.
Since that practice, Ohio’s showed more effort on the defensive end, but it hasn’t yielded positive results.
It’s only been a few weeks, but Ohio’s run through MAC competition feels like it was ages ago. Two of the MAC’s best scorers aren’t enough. Even with Hooks and Johnson at their best, Ohio’s defense has been too much of a liability in close games.
“(Close loss) hurts more than a blowout in my opinion,” Johnson said. “You let somebody go by you they score in the first quarter, you don’t think it’s important but then you lose by two.”
Gut-wrenching losses have made this season even longer for Ohio (17-11, 10-7 Mid-American Conference). Six out of the seven of Ohio’s conference losses have been by four points or fewer. In all those losses, the Bobcats defense could have saved them. All six times it failed.
That defense will have to save Ohio if the Bobcats still want to accomplish their goals. Ohio hopes that maybe it can regain its first-round bye, but it’ll take a win over Miami and a Western Michigan loss to do it. All hope isn’t lost, but at this point, hope may be the only thing the Bobcats have left.
“There’s still some time left,” Boldon said. “I’m hopeful we can do it next week but it feels a lot like hope and not a lot of confidence that it will happen.”