The Ohio Bobcats (5-7, 0-1) women’s basketball team opened up Mid-American Conference play against the Northern Illinois Huskies (4-6, 1-0) on Saturday at the Convocation Center in Dekalb. After a disappointing one-win season in conference play just a year prior, Ohio was looking to start off MAC play on steady ground.
However, things didn’t turn out so great for the ‘Cats. An overall poor shooting effort from the field for Ohio resulted in a 74-51 loss on the road against the Huskies.
Ohio guard Mariah Byard finished 5 of 8 from beyond the arc, tallying 17 points for the ‘Cats. Also putting up a solid effort was guard Quiera Lampkins, who made good on 9 of her 11 free throw attempts, scoring 13 points and grabbing six boards as well. Overall, Ohio shot a putrid 25.2 percent from the field. Outside of Byard, the team also struggled immensely from outside of the arc, only connecting on 1 of 21 long-range attempts.
Ohio’s struggles from beyond the arc prevented the women Bobcats from closing in on the Huskies in the early portion of the first half. Northern Illinois guards Amanda Pulliam and Amanda Corral led the initial charge for the Huskies, accounted for eight of the first 14 points for the Huskies. Pulliam and Corral both finished 5 of 9 from the field, totaling 29 points for Northern Illinois.
Five missed three-pointers during the aforementioned stretch of eight minutes in the first half kept NIU on top of Ohio, 14-8.
Then, just before the halfway point of the first frame, Ohio’s leading scorer in the contest, Byard hit her first of four long-range attempts in the half. This initiated a Bobcat run of sorts to bring Ohio within two points of the Huskies at the half.
Byard was almost single-handedly keeping the ‘Cats in the game with Ohio shooting just over 20 percent from the field in the first half. Northern Illinois shot over 40 percent from the field in the same span, but five Ohio steals and two blocks thanks to an all-around team effort also kept the ‘Cats close.
But the shooting woes continued for the Ohio women to start off the second half. The Bobcats didn’t hit their first field goal until the 14:22 mark, missing their first seven shots to start the frame.
However, the ‘Cats continued to chuck up three-point attempt after three-point attempt despite Byard being the only long-range shooter having success against NIU. Ohio was getting clean and open looks, but nothing—not even shots in the restricted area—were falling. Down 41-30—the first time the Bobcats were down double digits against NIU—Ohio women’s head coach Bob Boldon called for a timeout.
The defensive intensity by Ohio picked up after the break, with forwards Lexie Baldwin and Hannah Boesinger cleaning up the boards. The frontcourt duo combined for nine rebounds on the day.
But NIU quickly built the lead back up, going up double digits with 9:22 remaining for the remainder of the game.
The spectacular shooting afternoon by the Huskies, now also being led by Jazmine Harris along with Pulliam and Corral, brought the NIU advantage to a game-high 23 to end the contest. The Huskies ended up shooting 53.1 percent from the field, only taking one three-point attempt over the entire game.
The Ohio women will head back to the Convocation Center in Athens for the first time since Dec. 14 on Jan. 9. With MAC play now underway, the Bobcats will be going up against the Miami RedHawks. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.