Ohio often leans on three of its biggest contributors — Cece Hooks, Erica Johnson and Gabby Burris — when it needs to pull through a difficult game. Its 98-89 victory over Richmond on Saturday was one of those games.
It was a back-and-forth battle. Ohio led by double digits for much of the second and third quarters, but trailed by five with less than four minutes to go. Ohio needed every point it could get, and its big three stepped up. Johnson, Hooks and Burris combined for 76 points Saturday.
The Bobcats’ three best and most experienced players were there every time they were needed against the Spiders. Burris scored 12 points in the first quarter to get the Bobcats started on the right foot, and the trio combined to score 16 of the Bobcats’ final 19 points down the stretch.
Ohio coach Bob Boldon got a little emotional when speaking about the trio during his post-game press conference.
“Sometimes we take them for granted,” Boldon said. “It seems like they do this regularly, but they had 20, 24 and 32. That’s a lot.”
But not only are Hooks, Johnson and Burris three of the most experienced players on the team, they have also played a huge number of games together during their time in Athens. They have all been with Ohio since the 2017-18 season, and that time to bond allowed them to develop excellent relationships with each other on the court.
“We have good chemistry,” Johnson said. “We’ve been playing together for a while and we know where each other are going to be at all times. We’re really good when we play together and move the ball.”
Hooks, Johnson and Burris are a huge reason why Ohio was picked to win the Mid-American Conference. While the blowout wins may look more impressive on paper, games like Saturday are perfect examples of how Ohio can be great.
Saturday was a game where the Bobcats did not play particularly well. They ran into foul trouble, missed layups and gave up plenty of open shots. But when they were down and facing adversity, their three best players stepped up and delivered.
In any game it plays, especially in the MAC, Ohio will likely have three of best players on the court. Anytime that is the case, it will be able to come away with a win, just like it did against Richmond.
Saturday’s game showed that even when the Bobcats are struggling, the trio of Hooks, Johnson and Burris can be enough to pull out a victory.
Boldon knows how lucky he is to have three players with such talent, and he made sure to say so after the game.
“It’s a blessing to be able to have those types of players,” Boldon said. “You can count on them, and on nights when they’re all going, and they were all going tonight, you score a lot of points.”
Ohio still has some questions to answer as it gets closer to conference play, but the answers will come a lot easier for a team with a big three like Hooks, Johnson and Burris.