TOLEDO — Ohio knew walking into its game against Toledo on Wednesday night that it needed to match Toledo on defense. Ohio, who is ranked ninth in the Mid-American Conference for scoring defense, is smaller in nature and struggles to guard teams with bigger lineups.
Gabby Burris washed that problem away in the Bobcats’ 79-72 win over the Rockets.
Standing at 5-feet-11, Burris isn’t afraid to get in opponents’ faces. She’s not the biggest player on the Bobcats’ roster, and she is often matched up against taller players. Her pairs can be tricky, but Burris keeps her eye on the ball and her opponents at all times.
Toledo has one of the best defenses in the MAC and the second-best rebounding margin. It has the ability to rebound so well because it is not afraid to take shots. It made 69 field goal attempts compared to Ohio’s 57 Wednesday night.
However, Burris was on top of the Rockets at every opportunity. She led the Bobcats with nine rebounds, her third most this season.
“My coaches are always telling me to get more rebounds,” Burris said. “That’s kind of been my goal for the past week. Get in there, get banged up and get some boards.”
Not only did Burris get up close with Toledo, but she also ran into foul trouble because of it. She played the majority of the fourth quarter with four fouls. It wasn’t easy for the senior. She had to be attentive and pick her battles with Toledo in order to not foul out.
Burris was not the only player Wednesday to get into foul trouble. Toledo took out its leading scorer, Quinesha Lockett, with five minutes to go after she accumulated her fourth foul. Lockett returned sporadically as the clock winded down, and Toledo tried to make up for lost time. Burris, however, stayed in and fought.
Coach Bob Boldon trusts Burris to help Ohio maintain its cohesiveness on defense. He knows her veteran status helps the Bobcats make leaps and bounds on both sides of the ball.
“That’s a kid with a lot of experience and not a player who traditionally fouls a lot, either,” Boldon said.
The majority of Burris’ fouls came because she was doing her job on defense. There were times where she got caught in a sticky situation and couldn’t avoid committing a foul. Boldon knew he could keep Burris in the game as long as he needed to keep the Bobcats on the right track.
Burris keeps an even keel on the court. She does what is asked of her and does it with composure. Without her or fellow defensive powerhouse Cece Hooks, Ohio loses its edge on defense. Burris willingly jumps into the fray and isn’t shy when in the fight for a rebound.
Ohio knew it needed to put up a fight in the rebound battle if it wanted to stand a chance against the top team in the MAC. Burris delivered, and now the Bobcats have another upset win under their belts.