ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio Women's Basketball went toe-to-toe with the best of the Mid-American Conference Western Division on Wednesday night but ultimately fell, losing by a final score of 63-53 to the visiting Eastern Michigan Eagles.
In a game where Shavon Robinson surpassed 500 career points as a Bobcat, Ohio had three scorers in double figures but wasn't able to match a 29-point outburst from the MAC's leading scorer, Tavelyn James. Tenishia Benson led the way for the Bobcats with 15 points while Robinson (Canton, Ohio) and Mariah Byard (Mannington, W.Va.) were not far behind, scoring 14 and 11, respectively.
Ohio shot 36.5 percent from the field on Wednesday, connecting on 19 of its 52 field goals. Eastern Michigan was slightly more accurate, connecting on 23 of its 56 attempts to shoot 41.1 percent. The Bobcats played solid defense, forcing 22 Eagle turnovers and collecting 13 steals, but EMU held a 41-27 rebounding advantage.
Despite Ohio grabbing two early steals, Eastern Michigan (15-7, 7-2 MAC) opened up with a 12-4 run in the first six minutes of play. After hitting a pair of free throws, Benson (Akron, Ohio) responded by scoring Ohio's first bucket of the game at the 12:07 mark, followed by two more jumpers to cut the Eagles' lead to 16-10 with 10:42 remaining in the first half.
Sophomore Erin Bailes (Huntington, W. Va.) came in off the bench and scored a quick five points to bring the `Cats within four with less than eight minutes to play. Byard would add to the Ohio (10-13, 3-6 MAC) surge with a three-pointer of her own, cutting Eastern's lead to 19-18.
Eastern Michigan's stingy defense and ability to control the points in the paint stunted Ohio's momentum, however, as the Eagles headed into the locker room leading 33-26 after the first half. Benson led the first-half scoring for Bobcats with 12 points, followed by Bailes with five. Leading the scoring for the Eagles were James and Olivia Fouty with 11 and eight points, respectively.
The Eagles held major advantages in points in the paint (24-6), second-chance points (12-2) and rebounds (23-12) in the first half. The `Cats shot 9-for-24 (37.5%) from the field and 3-for-11 (27.3%) from three-point range while Eastern Michigan shot 14-for-33 (42.4%) from the field and 2-8 (25.0%) from three.
Both teams upped the pace and traded baskets to start to second half as Robinson and junior Tina Fisher (Cottage Grove, Minn.) tallied their first points of the game. Robinson continued her strong second-half performance with two more jumpers of her own to narrow the Eagles' lead to 44-36 with just over 12 minutes to play.
A three-pointer from Byard soon after and a layup from Robinson to send her into double digits pulled the `Cats within three (46-43) with 7:17 left to play. Quick shooting from James put the Eagles back up 10 only minutes later. Ohio would not back down, though, pulling within five and seven points in the final four minutes.
Ohio continues its MAC West Division play on Saturday, Feb. 4 as it travels to Dekalb, Ill. to take on Northern Illinois. Tip-off is slated for 4 p.m.