By Pete Nakos
ATHENS, OHIO — Amani Burke sat with a smile on her face as she listened to Cece Hooks talk about her fourth quarter performance. Hooks was talking about her fourth quarter performance, which included 12 points and three steals. Burke still can't believe how much the freshmen guard has progressed over one season.
Hooks' performance Wednesday night willed the Bobcats to a 79-78 win over Kent State at The Convocation Center. It was a game that came down to the wire, the Golden Flashes had the ball on the last possession of the game. With the win, Ohio is now in a position to be seeded as high as three or low as eight in the upcoming Mid-American Conference Tournament.
"I think games like this are going to prepare us," Burke said. "Games in the tournament are going to be just like this."
Here are four takeaways from the win.
Ohio played well
This is rather obvious since the Bobcats won, but it was how they won. Despite being outscored in every quarter except for the first, their defense held tough. They forced 21 turnovers, 16 coming from steals. On the final possession of the game, they had Kent State's best player covered and allowed her to score just six of her 26 points in the second half. Four players scored in double-digits. They dished out 18 assists. As a team everything is starting to click, which is what winning in March is all about, either a player gets hot or a team gets hot — in Ohio's case, it's a team effort.
FINAL | Ohio 79, Kent St. 78— Pete Nakos (@Pete_Nakos96) February 22, 2018
Here's the Golden Flashes last possession. A bad 3 and a put-back that nearly missed the rim is not what they were looking for. pic.twitter.com/fdID1gUfT9
But they need to keep winning
With three games remaining in the regular season, the Bobcats' future lays in their hands. Road contests against Buffalo and Akron lay ahead with Miami rolling into Athens for senior night next Wednesday.
The Bobcats haven't strung together three straight wins since November. As coach Bob Boldon said in his press conference, being successful in the MAC Tournament usually depends on the momentum the team has going into Cleveland. Take last year's team as an example, the Bobcats struggled to close out wins and were eliminated from a straight ticket to the quarterfinals.
This season, it seems like this team may be trending up headed into March.
Hooks can hoop
On Tuesday night, Hooks tied her career-high of eight assists, but more noteworthy was how she set the Ohio single-season record of steals in a season. She's done all of this as a freshman in college. Boldon drew comparisons to Quiera Lampkins' freshmen year; the number of points the two produced and how dynamic each can be. Boldon was just taken aback by Hooks' fourth-quarter performance, he's gotten to a point where he just lets her play. Even when he thinks she may of hit a wall, she breaks out of it.
Next Wednesday, Feb. 28 the Bobcats will honor their lone senior -- Taylor Agler. The redshirt senior transfer from Indiana has been in Athens for the past three seasons. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET and can be seen on ESPN3 against MAC East foe Miami.
Pete Nakos is the Writer for Ohio Athletics. Have any questions? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Pete_Nakos96.