Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post - Athens, OH
The independent newspaper covering campus and community since 1911.
The Post
Ohio guard Jaya McClure (0) after shooting the ball during a game against Ball State at The Convo, Feb. 17, 2024 in Athens.

Women’s Basketball: Ohio completes season-changing upset against Kent State

Backed into a corner entering the final weeks of the 2023-24 season, Ohio (8-16, 5-8 Mid-American Conference) had to pull off the unexpected to earn back its spot in the MAC tournament. Entering their game against the Golden Flashes, the Bobcats were one loss out of the eighth spot in the conference, making them the first team out of postseason play come March.

Kent State (15-8, 10-3 MAC), though, likely came into the game looking to continue its dominance over the conference. If it were not for Ball State and Toledo – which both sit at 12-1 in conference play – Kent State would be the runaway leader in the conference. So, while last night’s game changed little for the Golden Flashes, it changed everything for the Bobcats.

The first two scoring possessions of the game were telling. Monica Williams dribbled down the court, setting her feet and firing from the left wing, knocking down the first shot of the game, a 3-point jump shot to put Ohio in front. Kent State came back and earned its first points on a putback from Katie Shumate, who played all 40 minutes, logging 27 points and 10 rebounds. 

However, the momentum was maintained on the side of the home team, as Kate Dennis came back down and knocked down her first shot – of a career-high night in which she logged 14 points – a catch-and-shoot 3-point shot from the top of the key.

The game remained competitive throughout, with both teams going on runs. At the close of the half, Shumate had 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Whenever Shumate seemed to get going, though, she was matched by Jaya McClure, who scored a career-high 26 points in heroic fashion.

To McClure, however, her contributions were simply a vessel toward the win – the most important factor for her and her teammates.

“There’s nothing really to it,” McClure said. “We just got it done.”

Amid the flurries of buckets from both sides’ star scorers, the game was won through execution and big plays that won’t appear on the stat sheet.

Halfway through the fourth, the game began to momentarily swing. Kent State pulled out a 2-3 zone, looking to eliminate McClure and Ohio’s ability to get to the rim by shrinking the floor. 

In response to this, Ohio put all five of its players outside the 3-point line, and through concise ball movement, was able to find Bailey Tabeling and Madi Mace for 3-pointers in the weak spots of the zone, giving the Bobcats a 10-point lead.

“I thought (Kennedi Watkins) and Madi executed a really good high-low … and did a good job both attacking from the inside and attacking on the outside,” Ohio Coach Bob Boldon said. “I thought our ball movement was really good against (Kent State’s zone).”

Despite this lead, Kent State refused to lie down and give Ohio the win. On the back of Bridget Dunn scoring seven of the Golden Flashes’ points in a 12-2 run, including a 3 from the right wing that tied it up with 19 seconds to go, the Bobcats were back on their heels, needing a game-saving stretch.

After drawing a foul on Jenna Batsch, McClure made it to the free-throw line, giving the Bobcats a 2-point cushion with under 10 seconds to go. Timeouts were called, both teams committed turnovers and with four seconds left, Peyton Guice came into the game.

Guice hadn’t taken a single shot in the game. The fifth-year guard hadn’t logged a stat in any of the five major categories in her six minutes played. However, when Laylay Fantroy ran Batsch off the 3-point line, it was Guice who stepped up to take the charge, nullifying what would have been the game-tying floater. Ohio survived one last mid-range attempt from Kent State on a shot that would’ve sent the game to overtime to win 79-77.

“There really are no small plays,” Boldon said. “There’s plays that get more attention than other plays … but all of that is who we are.”


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2024 The Post, Athens OH