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Ohio Guard, Jaya McClure (0), dribbles down the court during the game against Western Michigan in the Convo. Feb. 28, 2024

Women’s Basketball: Ohio picks up a huge win against Western Michigan

Ohio (9-17 overall, 6-9 Mid-American Conference) left The Convo on Wednesday night the same way it did seven days prior, with a massive win at home against a conference opponent in the home stretch of its season. This time, defeating Western Michigan (12-14 overall, 7-8 MAC) by a score of 67-64. 

The entire game was a back-and-forth affair, and it started right from the jump in the first quarter. Both teams came out of the gates matching scores, something that would continue for the remainder of the game. 

Another trend that started in the first half and lasted the whole game was the even-scoring distribution for Ohio. Six different players scored in the first quarter, none of which had more than four points in the first 15 minutes. 

“That's what we hoped the identity of this team was going to be,” Ohio Head Coach Bob Boldon said. "We were going to be a balanced team that we could rely on different people. And I think we showed that tonight.”

The second quarter was packed with high-level, efficient offense from Ohio, coupled with swarming defense on Western Michigan’s leading scorer, Kaitlyn Zarycki, who was 3-3 from deep in the first quarter. 

There was not a better player who showed off that playstyle in the second quarter than Laylay Fantroy. She and fellow freshman guard Monica Williams linked up often in the second quarter, with Williams finding Fantroy for easy buckets off of Fantroy’s stellar defense. 

“We’re very good in transition,” said Fantroy. “So knowing that if I can get the ball out of someone's hands on the opposite team we can get those points in transition.”

That combination led to a quarter that saw Ohio often threaten to pull away with a double-digit lead, but Western Michigan kept fighting and kept answering time and time again, eventually entering the half down three to Ohio. 

The game’s third frame of action again kept with the back-and-forth nature of the game to that point. As Western Michigan went into the third quarter down three they came out of it in a tied game. 

Western Michigan seemed to figure out a zone defense that slowed down the Ohio offense, holding it to just 38% shooting from the field in the quarter.  

The fourth quarter was an excellent display of basketball from Ohio on both ends of the court, especially on defense. The Bobcats looked hungry and aggressive, swarming Bronco ball handlers and jumping passing lanes. Western Michigan did not see its first points of the final quarter come until more than five minutes had already burned off the clock. 

“These kids just keep battling, keep fighting… and I’m just really proud of them,” said Boldon. “They showed a lot of composure and they showed a lot of togetherness. I think that made a difference.”

For Ohio, the hero of the final frame was junior guard Kate Dennis. She shot 3-3 from deep in the final quarter, each three coming at monumental times for Ohio. 

The biggest of her threes however came in the biggest moment of the game, and her career. With the game tied at 64 with 20 seconds remaining, Ohio guard Jaya McClure drove the ball to the hoop and delivered a jump pass to Dennis in the left corner. Dennis showed no hesitation and knocked down the biggest shot of Ohio’s season, a corner three to give Ohio the lead with less than 10 seconds left. 

The last possession of the game saw Western Michigan guard Hannah Spitzley rise up to take a potential game-tying three that never had a chance as Monica Williams came through and delivered a monster snatch block on the game's final play, closing out the huge win for Ohio. 


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