Hooks hits 2K, Bobcats bomb away at Ball State

It was a shot the Cardinals dared her to take all night. But Cece Hooks wasn’t about to back down.

Hooks swished a left-side 3-pointer late in the third quarter on Wednesday night as the Bobcats crushed host Ball State, 88-66, inside Worthen Arena at Muncie, Ind. The bucket also gave Ohio’s senior guard an even 2,000 points in her career.

Ohio senior guard Cece Hooks, seen here in 2019, became the program’s second player with 2,000 career points during a win at Ball State on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Photo by Jason Arkley

Hooks, who finished with 22 points and now sits at 2,002 career points, is just the second player in Ohio history to hit the 2K mark. She joins the program’s all-time leading scorer Caroline Mast (2,449 career points) in that rarified air.

Ohio head coach Bob Boldon has nearly every single point in person.

“An incredible feat, and I’ve never been a part of something like that,” Boldon said. “You look back game after game where you think she can’t be better, and she is.

“We will look back on this and see how amazing it is,” he added. “She did not get to finish her junior year and got some non-conference games taken away from her this season and still hit 2,000. It’s truly an amazing feat.”

Ohio (11-6, 9-5 Mid-American Conference) had an amazing turnaround as well. After the Bobcats’ worst offensive performance of the season in a loss Saturday at Bowling Green, they turned in one of their best in dismantling Ball State (9-8, 7-6).

Ohio shot a season-worst 18.5 percent from 3-point range at BG and had a season-high 23 turnovers. At Ball State, OU bagged a season-high 17 3s on 39.5 percent shooting and limited turnovers to just 10.

Hooks and senior forward Gabby Burris led the way. Hooks added four rebounds, five assists and three steals. Burris netted 19 points with a season-high five 3-pointers and added three steals as well. Neither had a turnover after combining for 14 at BG.

“This was the epitome of a bounce-back game,” Boldon said. “Gabby (0-for-7 from 3 at BG) was frustrated with how she shot at Bowling Green. She looked good today.

“Our seniors combined for 14 turnovers against Bowling Green and had zero today. That says a lot about how good our senior leadership is.”

Freshman Madi Mace had 15 points and junior guard Caitlyn Kroll added 15 points, five rebounds and a team-high six assists. Sophomore forward Abby Garnett added career-highs of nine points and six rebounds off the bench.

Ohio again was limited to just nine available players due to injuries and COVID-19 protocols. Junior guard Erica Johnson (knee) sat out her third straight game; OU is 2-1 during the stretch.

Ella Skeens had 13 points off the bench to lead Ball State. Anna Clephane added 12 points, and Oshlynn Brown and Annie Rauch each chipped in 10.

Boldon improved to 9-2 at Ohio against the Cardinals, who knocked off OU 88-85 in overtime back on Jan. 13. Ball State shot just 4-of-21 from 3 (19.0 percent) and had 22 turnovers that led to 29 Bobcat points.

Ohio never trailed and broke from the game’s only tie – at 2-2 – with a 10-0 burst capped by Mace’s put-back bucket early in the first quarter.

The ‘Cats took a 22-12 lead into the second, and used a 9-2 spurt with Hooks providing the finisher on a steal-and-layup combo to forge a 34-20 lead with 4:50 left in the half.

Up 15 at the break, Ohio put the game away with a dominating third quarter. Kroll and Burris combined for three 3-pointers as part of a 13-3 salvo that pushed the lead up 59-34. A 10-2 flourish to end the quarter gave OU a 74-44 lead heading into the final 10 minutes.

Ohio will now gear up for three straight home games, including Saturday’s 1 p.m. bout against Western Michigan (3-12, 2-11). The Bobcats won the first matchup this season 69-63 on Jan. 23, and will enter trailing first-place Bowling Green (15-4, 11-3) by two games.

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