Ohio and Richmond had been fighting tooth and nail to secure the lead in the fourth quarter. The lead had changed 12 times over the course of the game, but all it took was a 3-pointer by Gabby Burris with 2:16 left in the fourth quarter to change it for the final time. Ohio defeated Richmond 98-89 for its fourth-consecutive win.
Unlike its last game against Florida A&M, Ohio (4-2) was ready from the jump. It flashed its fight after Burris sank a game-opening 3-pointer despite Ohio losing tipoff. It was hungry to keep its winning streak alive.
The Bobcats found gaps in the Spiders’ defense to make quick plays Saturday afternoon. They used short, sharp passing in the paint to pick up points early in the first. The Bobcats’ shooters weren’t afraid to share the ball. Their giving behavior helped the Bobcats end the afternoon with 17 assists.
Richmond (4-4) had length at several positions, and it caused Ohio to foul often. Ohio’s three leading scorers — Erica Johnson, Cece Hooks and Burris — all encountered foul trouble before the last quarter of the game. Ohio as a whole was already timid in the paint defensively, but it applied an extra caution to keep itself at full strength. Ohio snagged 27 defensive rebounds but it was not sharp until it needed to be.
“I thought we did an average job at rebounding, but did a really good job down the stretch at getting the rebounds when we needed them,” Ohio coach Bob Boldon said.
Fouls and free throws helped the Spiders creep up on the Bobcats, who were outscored 28-18 in the third quarter. The Spiders went 7-for-10 from the line and tacked on a 60% field goal percentage to overtake the lead.
But then the Bobcats surged.
Johnson broke through for the Bobcats. The guard went 7-for-8 on free throws and scored 14 total points in the fourth quarter. Johnson’s burst of energy brought the Bobcats back into contention. With 3:09 to go in the game, she made an easy layup to tie the score at 82-82.
The Bobcats found that moving the ball helps them score. They created a wider shooting range with their 17 assists, which allowed for better shot selection.
Those assists led to a high-scoring day for several of the Bobcat shooters. Johnson led both teams with a season-high 32 points. However, she wasn’t the only Bobcat to break double figures. Hooks ended the day with 24 points, and Burris knocked down a season-high 20.
“We have good chemistry,” Johnson said. “We’ve been playing together for a while … we’re really good when we play together, move the ball.”
Ohio’s bench players contributed to the movement. Yaya Felder and Ella Pope came in to help shift the tides for Ohio on multiple occasions. Felder contributed nine rebounds, the second-most on the team. Pope worked seamlessly with her teammates to create a strong defensive set up.
“They’re really talented kids,” Boldon said. “Every time they play they’re learning a little bit more about our system and how to play with our other players.”
Felder and Pope blended in when Ohio needed them. The pair did not slow Ohio down as it worked to keep its quick pace. Ohio played fast and tripped Richmond up, forcing 20 turnovers. Those turnovers became 20 points and boosted Ohio further.
Ohio managed to put it all together at the end of the afternoon and earned a win by the skin of its teeth. Its late scoring may not fly in Mid-American Conference play, though. Ohio needs to learn how to turn on the heat and keep it flowing all game.