In the first matchup between Ohio and Toledo, Ohio made a late comeback to snatch a road victory. But in Ohio’s 76-73 loss Wednesday night, Toledo returned the favor.
The Bobcats led Wednesday’s game by as many as 17 points, but a disappointing second half saw that lead evaporate as the Rockets knocked down 3-pointer after 3-pointer on the way to avenging their only Mid-American Conference loss of the season.
After Ohio handed Toledo that loss, it was in second place in the conference and riding high on a three-game win streak. In the three weeks since, Ohio has been 1-4 and dropped to ninth place in the MAC.
Heading into Wednesday, the Bobcats were coming off their first win since their previous matchup with the Rockets. For most of the night, it looked as if the Bobcats were going to start another win streak with another marquee win over the Rockets.
Ohio got off to a strong start, something that has been quite rare this season, hitting 8-of-20 shots from beyond the arc in the first half.
The Bobcats were led by Gabby Burris, who had 16 points in the first half and knocked down three 3-pointers to help power them to an 11-point lead at halftime. Burris also played well in the first game against the Rockets, but this time, they had an answer.
“They stayed attached to her,” Ohio coach Bob Boldon said. “They played smaller and guarded her with a guard.”
In the second half of the first game between the two teams, Burris took a bit of a backseat and allowed Erica Johnson and Cece Hooks to take over. When Burris was neutralized by Toledo in the second half of Wednesday’s game, there wasn’t much help coming.
Hooks played a solid game and had a number of buckets down the stretch that helped Ohio stay in the game, but Johnson was nowhere to be found. She was clearly still dealing with the injury that kept her out of last Saturday’s game against Western Michigan. Johnson finished with just seven points on 2-of-11 shooting and shot 1-of-8 from beyond the arc.
Johnson also only played 25 minutes, her second-lowest total of the season. This was just the latest example of Ohio being unable to overcome injuries and absences and, if it continues, Ohio is in serious danger of missing the MAC Tournament.
The Bobcats missed out on a major opportunity Wednesday, as they would have moved back into the top eight with a win, but they were unable to finish the job.
Ohio has spent the vast majority of this season playing to the level of its opponents. It looks great against teams like Toledo and Buffalo and then struggles against the bottom feeders of the conference. If the Ohio that shows up over the final six games of the season is the same one that has shown up for both games against Toledo, it should qualify for the MAC Tournament.
If the Bobcats are unable to step up to that level, however, they will likely miss the tournament, something that would have been unthinkable three weeks ago.