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Ohio Women's Basketball Fends Off Cleveland State, Improves To 6-0

Ohio Women's Basketball Fends Off Cleveland State, Improves To 6-0

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Box Score (PDF)

ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio women's basketball team (6-0) remained undefeated after a 72-54 win over Cleveland State (3-5) this afternoon at the Convocation Center.

The Bobcats have started a season 6-0 for the third time in the last five years.

Ohio shot 41 percent (26-of-63) from the field and converted 68 percent (13-of-19) of its attempts from the free throw line. The Bobcats held a decisive edge in points in the paint (38-20), points off turnovers (20-10) and steals (16-9 and forced Cleveland State to commit 28 turnovers -- the most by an Ohio opponent so far in 2018-19.

Junior guard Amani Burke (Columbus, Ohio) led all scorers with a game-high 17 points, going 6-of-13 from the field with four three-pointers. She also chipped in five rebounds, three assists and three steals in 31 minutes. Sophomore guard Cece Hooks (Dayton, Ohio) followed closely behind with 15 points by going 5-of-11 from the field and sinking five of her seven free throw attempts. She dished out three assists and compiled a game-high four steals and a game-high three blocks while adding five rebounds in 30 minutes. Redshirt freshman forward Erica Johnson (Mansfield, Ohio) and sophomore forward Gabby Burris (Baltimore, Ohio) both contributed 14 points for Ohio. Johnson added a team-high seven rebounds and a team-high four assists while compiling three steals in 26 minutes. Burris added five rebounds and a steal in 32 minutes of action. 

Ohio trailed Cleveland State, 31-30, after one half of play, marking the first time this season the Bobcats have found themselves behind on the scoreboard heading into halftime. The Bobcats shot just 38.7 percent (12-of-31) in the opening 20 minutes and were plagued by 10 turnovers. Ohio responded by outscoring the Vikings, 42-23 in the second half -- including 27-13 in the fourth quarter.

"You gotta execute at a certain level, and we weren't executing at that level," said sixth-year head coach Bob Boldon. "It's nice when you can come back and put it together. Hopefully, we can learn from this and move forward. I thought we did some really nice things in the second half. I thought we moved the ball well, we shared it. We were better defensively, largely because we were better offensively. We weren't turning it over as much, so we weren't playing in transition. We got a few more free throws in the second half, so we were a little bit more balanced. Our defense was able to get back and get set up. The hesitancy that we played with on offense in the first half just won't do."

Ohio struggled early from the field, going 3-of-9 for a 33.3 percent field goal percentage compared to Cleveland Sate, who went 4-of-5 for an 80 percent field goal percentage. However, Burke sank her first of two three-pointers in the first quarter, sparking a 6-0 run that pulled the Bobcats ahead, 10-9, with under three minutes remaining. With the score tied at 13 apiece with under 10 seconds left, Johnson snagged an offensive rebound that led to a put-back bucket to give Ohio a 15-13 edge headed into the second quarter. 

At the five minute-mark of the second quarter, Ohio held a 27-26 advantage over Cleveland State after a three-point basket from redshirt freshman guard Kaylee Bambule (Plainfield, Ill.) and layups by Johnson and freshman forward Deesh Beck (Grand Rapids, Mich.). After drawing a charge call, Hooks capitalized to give the Bobcats a 30-26 lead with under two minutes to play in the half. Cleveland State went on a 5-0 run to end the quarter, however, and entered halftime with a 31-30 lead over the Bobcats. 

Senior guard Dominique Doseck (Athens, Ohio) and Burke kicked off the second half by each hitting a three-point basket, and Hooks followed with a steal and basket to allow Ohio to regain the lead, 38-31, and force an early Cleveland State timeout. Burris and Hooks added another set of buckets in the paint to increase the lead to eight, 43-35, as the five-minute mark approached. Cleveland State again finished the quarter strong, going on a 5-0 run that brought the Vikings within four, 45-41, entering the fourth quarter. 

"I have a lot of confidence in my team," said Burke of Ohio responding from a tough first half with a stronger performance in the third quarter. "I feel like everybody on the floor is good and good enough to make plays defensively or offensively or both. I don't think we were nervous. We just kind of woke up." 

Ohio registered a 9-0 fourth quarter run on two steals converted to points by Hooks, a three-point basket by Burke and a bucket under the basket by Burris that gave Ohio a 57-44 with just over six minutes left in the game.  Senior forward Olivia Bower (Bowerstown, Ohio) delivered the icing on the cake with a three-point basket that was followed by a quick basket by Johnson, sealing the 18-point victory.

"We were moving the ball in their zone," said Hooks of Ohio's second-half success. "In the first half, we were just holding it and not passing it and sharing the ball. As we started moving the ball, everything started working out for us."

Junior guard Mariah Miller finished as the leading scorer for Cleveland State, recording a team-high 15 points after going 3-of-11 from the floor and 9-of-12 from the free throw line. She also added six rebounds and an assist. Freshman forward Isabelle Gradwell and junior guard Jade Ely each tallied nine points while freshman forward Savanna Crockett logged a game-high eight rebounds for the Vikings.

Ohio will continue its three-game homestand next Wednesday (Dec. 5) when it welcomes Big Ten Conference foe Purdue. The opening tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET at the Convo. Fans who are unable to attend Wednesday's contest can watch a live stream of the game on ESPN+, with Marty Bannister and Toni Roesch on the call. The game will be broadcast on the radio on WOUB-AM 1340, with Jake Hromada and Gabe Genovesi calling the action. The radio broadcast will also be available on OhioBobcats.com via Stretch Internet.

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