The Bobcats shook off a recent loss, but couldn’t shake off the regret of not finishing a game strongly as they posted a 72-63 win over the Miami RedHawks on Wednesday night at Millett Hall in Oxford, Ohio.
Ohio (4-3, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) led by as many as 21 points in the second half and had a 66-46 lead with just under six minutes to go before the RedHawks (1-7, 0-4 MAC) cut the margin back to seven inside the final 30 seconds.
“Didn’t do as good of job of finishing as we should have,” said head coach Bob Boldon, who cleared his bench with five minutes left but then sent the starters back in inside the final minute.
“And that’s concerning as we try to get to where we want to get to and be one of the better teams in the league.”
Senior guard Cece Hooks, the MAC’s leading scorer, dominated both ends of the floor for Ohio. She posted a game-high 26 points with a season-best 60-percent shooting (9 of 15) effort. Hooks, OU’s career and single-game steals record holder, also notched five rebounds, two assists and season-high five steals and two blocked shots.
Senior forward Gabby Burris added a season-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go with five rebounds.
“She’s a really good basketball player and has scored a lot of points for us,” Boldon said of Burris, who joins Hooks and junior Erica Johnson as one of three 1,000-point scorers on the roster. “She had a ‘Gabby Burris’ kind of night.”
Johnson added 13 points, four rebounds and four assists, but finished 0-of-7 from 3-point range. The Bobcats hit just 3 of 16 (18.8 percent) from the arc and had just two bench points.
Miami dropped its fifth straight matchup against OU, and led at no point after the opening quarter-and-a-half. Peyton Scott powered the RedHawks with 19 points and 11 rebounds as Miami enjoyed a healthy 40-29 rebounding edge thanks to 14 offensive rebounds.
The RedHawks led for most of the first quarter thanks to an early 8-0 run and took their final lead – at 20-19 – with 5:31 left in the first half. The Bobcats landed their own 8-0 surge at that point, started by Burris inside and capped her two free throws, and led 28-24 at the break.
Ohio broke the game open with a 20-4 to open the third quarter as Burris produced nine points in the game-deciding sequence for a 50-30 lead with 2:36 left in the quarter.
Burris’ final bucket, set up by a pass from Johnson, made it 62-41 with just under eight minutes remaining. But the Bobcats got sloppy down the stretch with turnovers, and lax defense marking the stretch run.
“I was really pleased with the first 30 minutes of defense,” Boldon said. “I’m happy to get out of here with a win and hopefully we can build on this.”
Ohio will take aim at a second straight league win on Saturday in a 1 p.m. start at Toledo (6-2, 2-2 MAC).