Updated Wed, Feb 6, 2013 11:07 pm
The worst losing streak under head coach Semeka Randall continues after Wednesday night, as Ohio (5-16, 0-9) dropped its ninth straight contest, all of which have come from conference play. A contest that would determine either team’s first win in the MAC was thought to be a fair fight, but Northern Illinois (6-16, 1-9) pulled out the lopsided victory, 73-52.
“The game was a game of runs and we didn’t have enough runs, they beat us on that end,” said guard Symone Lyles, who had a career-high 13 points. “It was a tough loss. We just have to move onto the next one.”
With zero offensive rebounds in the first half and two for the entire game, the Bobcats ended the game with a season-low 17 rebounds, 13 fewer than the previous low. Northern Illinois closed the victory with 40 rebounds.
“We clearly have to get to the board more; we only had two offensive boards,” said guard Erin Bailes, who was the team’s second-leading scorer with 10 points. “We need to step that up collectively and work harder in practice so we can come up with it in the games.”
Northern fired on all cylinders beyond its presence in the paint, shooting 59 percent from the field and 67 percent from beyond the arc with four players in double-digits. Amanda Corral led the Huskies with 20 points, followed by Ashley Sneed with 13, Natecia Augusta with 12, and Alexis Lindstrom with 11 points. Lindstrom went a perfect four-of-four from the field, including three three’s.
Ohio held the lead for a brief minute and a half to begin the game, but once the Huskies felt comfortable in the Convo, they did not look back.
A pair of back-to-back 3’s for the Bobcats, from Byard and Lyles, respectively, narrowed the margin to 2 points eight minutes into the game, but a 23-5 run by Northern Illinois set the pace for the game in favor of the visiting team.
After being down 17 at the half, Ohio went on a 9-4 run to start the second half. A pair of breakaway layups by guard Kiyanna Black, a deuce by Lyles, and a trey by Bailes seemed to ignite a stagnant Bobcat team, forcing the Huskies to take a timeout. The fire did not last for Ohio, though. An 8-0 run in just over a minute for Northern Illinois accumulated into a 21-11 streak at the eight-minute mark and snowballed into a 22-point margin for the Huskies.
Ohio’s inability to limit large scoring runs and droughts drained its chances of coming back in the game early.
“When we go on runs, the energy is high, everyone is flowing,” Lyles said. “We feel like every shot is a make, even if you do miss, you don’t think. When they’re on runs, energy is low, you feel the tiredness whereas opposed to when we are on runs, and you don’t feel tired. You don’t let that sink into you. It’s mental.”
Shooting over 45 percent after the break, and 50 percent from 3, Ohio kept the second half much closer than the game’s opening frame, losing by just four after halftime. Yet, a poor performance in the first half and a dynamic showing by a potential turnaround team in Northern Illinois gives the Green and White a bleak outlook on the remainder of the season.
Ohio ranks last in the MAC with seven games remaining in the regular season.
Randall’s win-deprived squad does not seem to give up hope, though.
“(The morale) is always high,” Lyles said. “In the game of basketball, you have to continue to keep it high. You can’t dwell on the past.”
When asked what type of team they were, Lyles responded, “A winning team.”
“How we started off in the season, I think we had some good competition in Duquesne, and I think we stayed with them,” Bailes said. “We’ve got to get that back to where we are.”
On Saturday, the Bobcats have another chance to get to where they want to be when they face Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti at 2 p.m.; the game will be televised on SportsTime Ohio.
Randall was not available for comment after the game.