Ohio coach Bob Boldon shared an emotional moment and a high-five with Gabby Burris just outside the visitor’s locker room after Ohio’s 82-69 win over Bowling Green Saturday.
The senior had just scored a career-high 26 points to not only power the Bobcats to a huge win and propel them back into position to qualify for the Mid-American Conference Tournament but also give Boldon his 100th MAC win as Ohio’s head coach.
Burris had played extremely well in the first halves of their last few games, but she finally put together a complete performance to lead the Bobcats to a huge victory Saturday.
“I thought her shot selection was good from start to finish,” Boldon said. “When her number was called, she continually answered.”
Burris shot 10-of-15 from the field and 4-of-9 from beyond the arc. She was hitting shots from all over the floor, from floaters in transition to help keep the game close in the first half, to clutch threes in the fourth quarter. Burris was dialed in all day.
“The ball was just flowing for me,” Burris said. “My teammates were finding me on open shots and getting me where I wanted to shoot the ball.”
Burris knocked down big shots throughout the game, but her two biggest were a pair of fourth quarter threes, the first of which was part of an Ohio run that put the game on ice.
With just under one minute to go in the third quarter, and the Bobcats leading by nine, Erica Johnson hit her second 3-pointer of the game to increase their lead to double digits. Just 27 seconds later, she hit her third, and suddenly the Bobcats were taking a 15-point lead into the final period.
Burris knocked down a three to start the fourth, and Yaya Felder hit one of her own to finish off the 12-0 run. In just over two minutes of game action, Ohio’s lead had ballooned to 21 points, and Bowling Green was finished.
“That was really big for us,” Burris said. “That really builds our confidence and that energy translates to our defense, where we really need it.”
The Bobcats certainly needed that energy on defense in the second half of Saturday’s game. After a first half in which they allowed 40 points and the Falcons shot 9-17 from beyond the arc, the Bobcats locked in during the second half, allowing just 29 points on 35% from the floor.
While Burris may have had a career night, the Bobcats got production from all over the roster. Cece Hooks and Erica Johnson were excellent, combining for 33 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists.
Felder and Madi Mace also stepped up, with seven and 10 points respectively, and the Bobcats got four big 3-pointers from Felder, Mace and Kaylee Bambule.
This was a complete win for the Bobcats, but it was also accompanied by stellar play from Burris, Hooks and Johnson, which is something they have not always had at the same time over the last few weeks.
Ohio beat one of its direct rivals for the final spots in the MAC Tournament, got a career day from Burris and put in one of its best performances of the season.
The Bobcats have no time to rest on their laurels, however, as their road trip continues with games against Akron and Buffalo, two of the top three teams in the MAC.
Ohio’s furious rush of games at the end of a challenging season will continue, but it could not have asked for a better start to its stretch run.