Injuries to the Ohio roster are proving to be a significant roadblock early in MAC play for the Bobcats, who are missing key components to their roster. Ohio went without Shavon Robinson for the fourth consecutive game and Mariah Byard for the second straight in its 67-41 loss to the Bowling Green State University Falcons Sunday afternoon at The Convocation Center.
“You have to give credit to the seniors for just constantly keep pushing through and I think that’s why our team is still going and still have that fight out there,” said head coach Semeka Randall of her team.
After starting 0-3 in league play, Ohio (5-11) headed into the contest looking for its first MAC win of the season, but fell short to Bowling Green (12-5) who headed into the game with a 2-1mark in league play.
“They’re always very consistent, they always play hard together, which everyone admires in this league,” said guard Symone Lyles about Bowling Green after the game.
The Falcons came out strong in the first half, amassing a lead as large as 19 points. The Falcons posted two points early in the game, but Kiyanna Black responded with a three-pointer shortly after. That was the only time Ohio was in the lead during the game.
Bowling Green broke away with a 10-0 run, distancing themselves from the Bobcats who were enduring a scoring drought. Ohio worked to claw itself back into the game with contributions from Black, Erin Bailes and Lyles. Ohio made it to within three points of the Falcons.
The Falcons were just getting started, however, as they continued to challenge Ohio. The teams ended the first half with a score of 36-17.
Through the first half, the Bobcats held just a 24% shooting percentage compared to 58.3% for the Falcons.
Black led the Bobcats in the first half with eight points, followed by Lyles who had seven. Miriam Justinger led Bowling Green with eight points in the first half.
The second half of the contest saw the Bobcats fall even further. With 3:02 remaining in the game, the Falcons held a 32-point lead over the Bobcats.
The Falcons held true to their strong defensive strategies. They came into the game having allowed just 41 points per game in league play.
Overall, Black led Ohio with 14 points total in the game. Lyles and Bailes joined her in double digits with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Justinger was the only player to reach double digits in points for the Falcons, finishing with 13.
“Symone was aggressive, so her getting to the free throw line helped our team out. When [Black] was tired, we had to go to somebody else and Erin finally stepped up in the second half and was a little bit more aggressive,” said Randall.
Having a short bench was a factor in the loss for the Bobcats with six players receiving 20 or more minutes of play over the course of the game. It’s posing a challenge for the Bobcats, but Randall remains optimistic.
“I know it starts with leadership. Everyday I wake up believing that this team can do something amazing. There’s not one day that I don’t think that, even with the situation that we’re in. I don’t think you give yourself any other choice not to believe that. You have to have that mentality because it’s still a lot of more games to be played and you get some bodies back, and things could just change,” she said. “You see it in college athletics all the time, especially with the tournament. Someone gets hot, gets rolling—things change.”