Before Ohio’s game against Central Michigan, the Bobcats had lost their last two games to the Chippewas by a combined four points. After the game, that point total changed to seven.
Ohio (3-3, 1-2 Mid-American Conference) lost 90-87 in yet another heartbreaking game to Central Michigan (5-2, 3-0 MAC) on Saturday afternoon in the Convo.
The Bobcats have been here before. Seemingly every game between the two teams come down to the last few seconds. Saturday was no different.
After closing the gap to one point in the last thirty seconds of the game, Ohio was forced to foul. Central Michigan went to the free-throw line with 25 seconds left. After missing the second free throw, the Chippewas got the offensive rebound which forced Ohio to foul again and stretched the lead to four.
While that play in the waning moments of the game was crucial, head coach Bob Boldon didn’t attribute the loss to that.
“There were a number of breakdowns,” Boldon said. “That’s the one that’s going to stick out in your mind, because then it’s a one-point game and you’re handling the last couple of minutes differently. Sure, that was poor; so was our transition defense, so was us closing out to the shooters.”
The Bobcats got another opportunity when they managed to steal and got to the free-throw line while facing a two-point deficit. Gabby Burris was unable to make the first shot, and Ohio’s hope of winning was all but lost.
Burris made the second shot, but nobody covered Chippewa guard Micaela Kelly, who was already running down the court to put the game on ice.
Redshirt junior Erica Johnson also thought there was more the Bobcats could have done earlier in the game to secure a win.
“It’s just those plays that we constantly take off and take for granted,” Johnson said. “It could be in any quarter, we know it’s going to come down to the wire with them, but we can’t seem to figure it out. I know it’s going to come down to those plays earlier in the game that we take for granted.”
Ohio struggled offensively in the first quarter after missing its first eight 3-pointers. Johnson and the rest of the Bobcats came back with a dominant second quarter but struggled to find a rhythm after the Chippewas started guarding Johnson full court.
“I’ve seen it all the time in high school, but I haven’t seen it here,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t really figure it out I didn’t know how to contribute to my team. It was hard figuring it out.”
The guard scored only seven of her 21 points in the second half.
Central Michigan has been a tough nut for Ohio to crack for many years, and the close losses have taken their toll on the players.
“It’s frustrating because you think you’re a really good basketball team, and then you realize you’re really just average,” Boldon said. “I think that’s probably the hardest thing to swallow.”
The Bobcats dropped to .500 after the loss, which is their worst start through six games since the 2013-14 season. Ohio will have a chance to get its positive record back on Wednesday at Miami. It will get another shot at Central Michigan in two weeks in Mount Pleasant.