Ohio (6-23, 4-14 Mid-American Conference) ended its season Saturday afternoon with a 74-64 loss to Eastern Michigan (15-14, 7-11 MAC). This splits the two team's matchups this season as Ohio beat Eastern Michigan on the road.
It was an emotional day for the Bobcats as the program celebrated the departure of five seniors. The team was playing inspired even though they had already been eliminated from postseason play.
In the first quarter, both teams came out playing a zone defense. After both teams struggled on offense to start, the pace of play and scoring quickly picked up. Ohio started to give up some guard penetration at the top of the zone which resulted in two quick fouls for Abby Garnett. This resulted in a platoon of Cassidy Lafler and Aja Austin getting strong minutes together.
Down seven after the first quarter, Ohio came out firing in the second, quickly cutting the lead to one with back-to-back 3-pointers. A Yaya Felder takeover on both sides of the basketball and more than three-minute scoring drought from Eastern Michigan gave Ohio plenty of confidence, but after couple of turnovers and a technical foul for head coach Bob Boldon, the wind was no longer in Ohio’s sails.
The third quarter got off to an ugly start as both teams couldn’t convert on offense. Eastern Michigan then started to take over as it began to penetrate Ohio’s zone. After a 7-0 run from from the Eagles, their lead grew to 12 at the end of the third quarter.
Ohio did not give up as Lafler continued to make an impact and hit a three to cut the lead to nine early in the fourth quarter. On the next possession, Austin forced a lose ball and kicked it out to Jaya McClure, who sprinted down the floor to further cut into the lead.
Ohio could never get the lead under seven, though, as Eastern Michigan sealed the game late to finish with a 10-point victory. It was an emotional day and that was evident in the post game conference with Garnett and Jasmine Hale.
“I learned a lot about not only myself, but I am learning a lot from my teammates and building a bond with them,“ Hale said. “That was really the most important thing to me. Having a bond with them just like they are sisters.”
“I have been here since 2018,“ Garnett said.” I think it just really challenged me not only mentally, but physically as well. This turned me into a better person.”
Although the final result to the season is not what it wanted, Ohio put its heart into this season and it was easy tell from its fight until the final buzzer.