Ohio walked onto the court of The Convo in need of a bounce-back win following a poor performance at Appalachian State in the team’s season opener. The team got just that against Dayton in what would end up being a 67-61 finish, a score that doesn’t do the best to demonstrate the team’s performance earlier on in the game.
The Bobcats entered the game first in the NCAA in turnovers, putting up 33 in the 40 minutes they played against the Mountaineers. Limiting turnovers and fouls and trying to keep the rebounding margin as even as possible were the pillars of how Ohio would need to play to come home with a win.
Ohio would finish with 18 turnovers in this performance while forcing 26 on Dayton’s end, controlling the possession game to the best of its ability.
“We would probably say 18 is a smidge too many, but we’ll take it,“ Head Coach Bob Boldon said. "We started (with) 33; 18 sounds pretty good. We’ve got to get down to that 12-15 area, and we will.”
The team’s energy was palpable, especially in the midst of the second and third quarters where the Bobcats were at their most dominant this game.
The first quarter started out slowly, ending with just 23 combined points between the two teams, Ohio leading 14-9. The first 7 minutes of the second quarter were contested as well, with Dayton going up by 4 with 3 minutes and 53 seconds left in the half. However, the momentum would swing when Madi Mace caught fire, drilling two threes and a layup, accounting for 8 of the Bobcat's next 9 points to make it a 5-point advantage.
This is also when the defense started to make some noise. Going into the game, the Bobcats knew that the Flyers wanted to get into the paint. Throughout the game, however, Ohio was able to keep them out on the perimeter, launching 21 threes – 12 more than it put up in its previous performance against Lindenwood.
Dayton looked notably uncomfortable on a handful of possessions, with Ohio forcing many turnovers from steals in passing lanes and even forcing an over-and-back violation. Executing the game plan was goal number one for Bolden and the Bobcats.
“The ability of this team to take what they learned in practice and execute it on the floor has been really impressive through two games,” Boldon said. “We’ve got a lot more to learn, but I was really impressed by the way that they kept the ball out of (Mariah) Perez’s hands.”
Perez, who averaged 11 points per game for the Flyers heading into the game, only took one shot this contest – a testament to how strong this Ohio defense has been. Overall, Dayton shot just 38% from the field for the game.
Of course, the story of the night couldn’t be told without sophomore guard Jaya McClure’s return, as she erupted for 18 points to lead all scorers off the Ohio bench. McClure put on a masterclass toward the end of the second that then continued into the third quarter with 6 points to end the half, then coming back in and giving the Bobcats 5 more in the third.
Overall, this game stands as a building block for the team moving forward, as it showed promise and growth; two things that both the Bobcats and fans will look for throughout the season.