The Ohio women’s basketball team got the season off to a nice start with a 63-56 win over Cleveland State University. Though momentum shifted throughout the game, Ohio came out on top of the back-and-forth affair.
“You’ve just got to weather the storm. You’ve got to keep constantly telling yourself, I’m okay. I’ve got to eliminate the mistakes that I did, learn from them and move on and believe in your heart, you know what, we’re going to make our plays, make our run and when we make our run, I mean we’ve literally got to step on the gas pedal and keep running,” said coach Semeka Randall. “Don’t look back and I thought we did that in the second half.”
The start was slow for the Bobcats who were down five points in the early stages of the game. Momentum shifted in favor of Ohio, who went on a tear. Shavon Robinson helped turn the tables with the Bobcats’ first made field goal on a drive to the net to score two, which left Ohio down 5-4.
“I think we mainly know when the right time to have patience and poise because you can see the game clearly,” said Robinson of the early stages of the game.
Cleveland State continued to add pressure, but guard Kiyanna Black sunk a layup to bring the score to 9-6. Robinson tied the game at 11 on a free throw.
Back gave the Bobcats the lead with two points on a layup. Mariah Byard sank a trifecta to give Ohio the 16-11 lead. The play was a key point for the Bobcats.
“It’s your vets making those big-time plays. They were just feeding off of one another. They were embracing the fact that Mariah stepped up and knocked that shot because sometimes we have to get Mariah to step up and shoot that ball and the kid can knock the ball down, so it’ll be great if they start to realize how important that is, feeding off one another, creating that energy,” said Randall.
The Bobcats continued to drive the ball down the court and put up numbers for the remainder of the first half.
For Cleveland State, there was a heavy reliance on forward Shalonda Winton, who had 15 points in the first half. The Bobcats knew going into the game that Winton would be a force they would have to content with and they responded to the challenge.
“We knew coming in, it was a tough matchup, and I think one of the biggest things that we did a fantastic job on her, we kept her off the free throw line,” said Randall. “That’s where she has scored her points.”
The Bobcats headed into the half down 30-29.
The second half onceagain got off to a slow start, with Ohio unable to score for over three minutes into the half. The Bobcats were playing from behind for the beginning of the second half, but took control of the game with a layup from Robinson. Ohio never trailed the Vikings for the remainder of the game.
“I think we were a little more aggressive that second half,” said forward Tina Fisher.
In the second half, the Bobcats held the Vikings to a 33.3 field goal percentage, compared to 48.3% in the first half. Ohio forced 38 turnovers over the course of the game.
The ‘Cats improved their own field goal percentage from 34.8% in the first half to 52.2% in the second half.
Robinson helped lead Ohio to victory with 15 points on the night. Byard, with 13 points, and Fisher, with ten, also had big games for the Bobcats.
For Ohio, having multiple players to turn to will be important down the stretch.
“I think in the past, we’ve relied on two players stepping up. I think this team understands and appreciates what each individual brings to the game, so they’re knowing how to play with each other’s strengths and putting people in good position to make plays,” said Randall.
The freshmen Black, who had six points, and Lexie Baldwin, who had seven, also look to be key factors over the course. Both saw action early in the game and Randall expects them to continue to see playing time with injuries plaguing the team.
“I’m not treating them like freshmen,” said Randall. “I will say these are the most talented freshmen that I’ve probably brought in and so a lot is expected from them and having such a short roster, we’re going to expect a lot from them and I understand that they’re going to have good days and bad days.”
Overall, the win appears to be a huge boost for the team.
“For us to get this win, I think it means a lot,” said Robinson. “And it’ll definitely hit us tomorrow in our off day. We’ll realize this was a really great win for us.”