By Pete Nakos
Ohiobobcats.com Feature Writer
Coach Bob Boldon is looking for his team to put together a stretch of wins and the only way for that to happen is strong defensive outings.
Ohio has won its last two games thanks to playing its best defense since mid-December, forward Jasmine Weatherspoon said.
The recent success on the defensive end is attributed to a characteristic that Boldon has instilled in his players: effort.
The effort he looks for in players will be needed to make a run for a Mid-American Conference Championship, which would earn them a NCAA Tournament berth.
âEvery game he is always challenging me to continue to rebound and make plays he knows I can make,â forward Jasmine Weatherspoon said. âHeâs just always pushing me to play. He wants us to make good grades. He pushes people to be better people on and off the court.â
The effort on defense has been noticed. He said moving forward he will tailor his defensive game plan around the teams they face. Boldon believes in a man-to-man defense, playing tough and forcing opposing teams to take bad shots.
Guard Quiera Lampkins has taken most of the workload on as the offense has struggled to move the ball. Last Wednesday against Toledo, Lampkins scored her 1,500th point, only the fourth player in program history to do so. She currently ranks 23rd in the NCAA in points per game.
On that night she scored 26 points and recorded her fourth double-double of the year, leading the Bobcats to a 64-55 win. Three days later she had 22 points in a 68-51 win over EMU.
She thrives on driving to the basket for easy layups in the paint and if she doesn't find success there, Lampkins is potent from the 3-point line.
As much as she can do to help the lack of offense, the entire team effort on offense will have to improve, Weatherspoon said.
The rest of the team needs to move around and not watch Lampkins score, she said.
âWe have a role to do when she gets the ball,â Weatherspoon said. âWe all just canât watch her drive.â
The effort needed from the other four players on the court to find openings if Lampkins canât always score.
âMy personal evaluationâ I think Iâm doing ok,â Lampkins said. âI feel like I could do better, I could rebound more, so hopefully I continue to do that throughout the season.â
Boldon knows both sides of the ball can play well at the same time because he looks for two qualities in his players: a want to win and effort.
For Lampkins and Weatherspoon, both seniors, each have the the effort it takes to make the NCAA Tournament; they accomplished the feat in 2015.
âWeâre at the halfway point so of course, we aren't perfect, especially since weâve already lost two games,â Lampkins said. âI think as a team we just have to keep on getting better. But you never want to be perfect or undefeated or even the best team right now. That way you can make mistakes before it really matters.â
Four years ago, the Bobcats finished with just six wins. It was Boldonâs, Weatherspoonâs and Lampkinsâ first year at Ohio.
Now, the Bobcats have 14 wins, doubling their win total from that first year.
Itâs the effort that has propelled the three to where they are now.
The culture has shifted, too, losses are unexpected and wins are expected.
âI didn't want to be on a team that was going to win six games a season,â Lampkins said. âLosing sucks. I expect them to be upset.â
For now, the seniors have 11 games left until the MAC Tournament. Until then, they'll continue to improve and as Boldon hopes, put together a string of wins.
So far, the early effort has paid off.
âThe next game is always the most important game,â Boldon said. âWeâll try to make the adjustments from this game.â