ATHENS, Ohio – Led by sophomore guard Cece Hooks' (Dayton, Ohio) 22 points, the Ohio women's basketball team (25-4, 14-4 MAC) wrapped up the regular season by defeating Bowing Green (9-20, 2-16 MAC), 76-68, Saturday afternoon (March 9) inside the Convocation Center on Senior Day. The victory clinched the two-seed in this year's Mid-American Conference Tournament and the MAC East title for the third time in the last five years.
"To win 25 regular season games is pretty good," head coach Bob Boldon said. "It's something I think they should be very proud of. We were picked third on our side and the teams that were picked ahead of us were good. One went to the Sweet 16, the other returned five starters, the voters had reason to put those people ahead of us. It feels a little bit better when you come from behind and you aren't supposed to be here, whatever the reason."
Hooks finished the game with 22 points, going 7-of-2 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line. She also grabbed three rebounds and dished out four assists in 39 minutes. Junior guard Amani Burke (Columbus, Ohio), who reached 1,000 points in her career, finished with 17 points, going 6-of-14 from the field and 5-of-10 from three-point range while grabbing four rebounds. Redshirt freshman forward Erica Johnson (Mansfield, Ohio) finished with 15 points, going 5-of-11 form the field, 2-of-6 from three-point range and 3-of-6 from the free throw line. Johnson also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds and dished out a team-high five assists. Sophomore forward Gabby Burris (Baltimore, Ohio) finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
Ohio finished the game shooting 43 percent (26-of-60) from the field, 33 percent (11-of-33) from three-point range and 72 percent (13-of-18) from the free throw line, while Bowling Green shot 48 percent (25-of-52) from the field, 45 percent (10-of-22) from three-point range and 73 percent (8-of-11) from the free throw line. Bowling Green out rebounded the Bobcats, 34-31, while the Falcons dished out 17 assists to Ohio's 16. The Bobcats recorded four blocks and 15 steals, while also forcing BGSU to turn the ball over 22 times.
The Bobcats opened the game on a 9-0 run that started with a layup from senior forward Kendall Jessing (Sylvania, Ohio). Bowling Green got on the board with a three-pointer with 5:06 left in the first quarter. The Falcons brought the score within three before a three by Burke would put Ohio back up 12-6. Moments later, Burke hit another three, giving her 1,000 career points, and putting the Bobcats up 15-9 with 4:20 left in the quarter. BGSU would go on a 4-0 run before a layup from Hooks would give Ohio a 17-13 lead. After Bowling Green cut the lead to three, a three from Johnson and a free throw from freshman forwards Deesh Beck (Grand Rapids, Mich.) would give the Bobcats a six0point lead with 22 seconds left. A late three at the buzzer for the Falcons would send the game to the break with Ohio up 21-18.
In the second quarter, Burris got the scoring going for Ohio with her first three of the game. Bowling Green would tie the game at 26-26 with 8:03 left, before Burris broke the tie would a layup. A three pointer and two free throws from Hooks would give the Bobcats a 34-26 lead with just over six minutes to play in the half, however, the Falcons would go on an 11-2 run to take a 38-36 lead with 2:14 left. Johnson would give Ohio the lead back with a layup, however, another three from Bowling Green would but the Falcons up two with just over a minute to go. However, a 4-0 run with layups from senior forward Olivia Bower (Bowerstown, Ohio) and Hooks would give the Bobcats a 43-41 lead going into the half.
At the half, Ohio shot 50 percent from the field, 35 percent from three-point range and 88 percent from the free throw line, while Bowling Green shot 64 percent from the field, 78 percent from three-point range and 86 percent from the free throw line, The Falcons out-rebounded Ohio, 14-10, while dishing out 11 assists to the Bobcats' eight. Ohio also scored 14 points off of turnovers and scored 18 points in the paint, while forcing 15 turnovers on 11 steals.
Bowling Green would get the first basket of the third quarter, a three that would put them up 44-43 with 8:29 remaining in the quarter, Burke would immediately respond with a three of her own, giving Ohio the lead back. However, the Bobcats and Falcons would trade baskets over the next few minutes, with the Falcons taking a 50-49 lead going into the media timeout. After BGSU would go up three, A three from senior guard Dominique Dosek (Athens, Ohio) would tie the game at 52-52. A jumper and a free throw from Johnson would give the Bobcats a three-point lead. However, the Bobcats and Falcons would trade baskets the remaining minutes of the third quarter, with Bowling Green hitting a three with four seconds left to tie the game at 59-59 going into the fourth quarter.
A layup and free throw from Burris would open the fourth quarter for the Bobcats, giving Ohio a three-point lead, before BGSU would tie the game back up at 62-62 with 8:33 left. Ohio would then go on a 7-0 run with a layup and a three from Burke and a layup from Burris to put Ohio up 69-62 with 5:13 to go. A three from Johnson would give the Bobcats a 10-point lead with just over four minutes to go. The Falcons would cut the lead to six with 1:46 to go, but a three from Burke would give Ohio a nine-point lead with just over a minute to go. Ohio and the Falcons would trade free throws the remaining minute of the game, with the Bobcats coming out on top, 76-68.
For Bowling Green, the Falcons were led by Sydney Lambert who scored 17 points and 10 rebounds. Madisen Parker finished the game with 16 points and five boards, while Andrea Cecil wrapped up with game with 15 points and six assists.
Up next, Ohio will play in the third game of the day on Wednesday in Cleveland during the second round of the MAC Tournament. The days' games begin at noon, and Ohio will play 30 minutes after the second game ends.