On a day when Ohio (7-15, 4-7 Mid-American Conference) dropped its fourth straight game and lost the battle against Texas State (13-12, 3-9 Sun Belt), most wouldn’t expect there to be many bright spots. Despite the losses adding up for Ohio, freshman guard Laylay Fantroy delivered a breakout performance with a career-high 24 points.
Fantroy has been involved on the court for Ohio since the beginning of the season, consistently coming off the bench providing quality minutes and giving the team a spark of energy on defense.
On offense, Fantroy has shown flashes of her outstanding finishing and playmaking ability, as well as her knack for getting to the line and converting her free throw opportunities into easy points.
Against Texas State, all of Fantroy’s abilities aligned, allowing her to have a stellar performance, finishing with 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field, making six of nine free throws, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks. A stat-sheet-stuffing day for Fantroy, but on the defensive end, her impact speaks louder than her impressive stats.
“She has incredible instincts for basketball,” said Ohio Head Coach Bob Boldon. “She sees things well and understands things well and puts herself in a position to make big plays. She really had some big steals and big rebounds for us on the defensive end.”
Saturday’s game with Texas State was very physical; there were 45 fouls called between both teams and a good number of those fouls were player-control fouls.
Ohio’s defense was constantly putting pressure on Texas State, and that defensive game plan allowed Fantroy to thrive on the court.
“Heavy pressure on the ball forces people to turn the ball over,” Fantroy said. “It gives my team the opportunity to get those steals and push it in transition.”
Fantroy did exactly that, as time and time again Fantroy would be the beneficiary of Ohio’s heavy ball pressure resulting in steals, allowing Fantroy to get down court and score on the fast break.
There were also multiple times where Fantroy made the play on both defense and offense, jumping the passing lane at the top of the key to force a turnover and a wide-open lane to the hoop on the other end.
As for her offensive performance, it was equally as impressive as her day on the defensive side of the ball.
Fantroy is one of Ohio’s taller players standing at 5 feet, 11 inches and against Texas State, she played like it. Fantroy lived in the paint on Saturday, grabbing rebounds and earning tough second-chance points.
Fantroy isn’t afraid to put the ball on the floor and create her own looks at the hoop either, something that has developed for her throughout the season.
“So originally, coming in as a freshman I was a little nervous,” said Fantroy. “But just playing more and more I got comfortable and in a flow and I'm going into my gameplay which is just like taking people off the dribble and scoring inside.”
Fantroy has done nothing but improve during her freshman year, and the game against Texas State was a statement game.
“It’s exciting,” said Boldon. “I’m happy she’s here; I’m happy she’s a freshman, and I think the future is very bright for her.”