Updated Sun, Dec 15, 2013 9:10 pm
After a week of battling final exams, the Ohio Bobcats battled Division II Notre Dame College (OH) in their first game in the Convocation Center in over a month. Ohio (4-4) overcame shooting 35 percent from the floor to top Notre Dame (5-2) 70-52.
Guard Kiyanna Black led the offensive attack with 20 points, with forward Lexie Baldwin chipping in an additional 10 points and four boards. Many of Ohio’s offensive opportunities came on transition plays, in large part due to forcing 34 Notre Dame turnovers.
Notre Dame’s screen-heavy offense revolved around guard Martha Nagbe. The redshirt sophomore contributed half of her team’s point total with 26 points on 8-of-19 shooting.
Neither Nagbe nor the Ohio offense could find much success in the game’s beginning minutes. Notre Dame’s 2-3 zone held strong and prevented Ohio from establishing a presence in the paint. It took the ‘Cats until the 15:30 mark to get on the board when guard Yamonie Jenkins nailed a three from the corner.
The ‘Cats went on to make five more treys in the half, spreading the defense out enough to open up driving lanes and keep Ohio in the lead.
Ohio’s tight man-to-man defense trapped Notre Dame shooters in the corner and forced low-percentage shots from the Falcons. As the half wore on, Ohio’s defense showed some signs of fatigue, allowing open opportunities and the chance for Notre Dame to stay in the game.
After the first 20 minutes, Ohio led 35-28, but was losing the rebounding battle 20-18.
Ohio came out firing in the second half. Jenkins’ speedy layup right out of the gate spurred an 8-0 run and forced a Notre Dame timeout. Ohio saw a rise in aggression in the paint on both ends of the court. Offensively, players were making the right cuts to the hoop for high-percentage shots.
A strong paint presence proved to be vital when the Bobcats went on to miss their first 11 attempts from beyond the arc. With a motion offense that revolves around the ability to sink 3-pointers, Ohio head coach Bob Boldon said that his team’s shooting needs to improve.
“We have to hit the gym and put the work in,” Boldon said. “I thought that our defense was better today than it was against Cleveland State 10 days ago, but we have to put the work in offensively as well and get better that way.”
With Ohio in the lead for the majority of the late first half and on, the Bobcats received many opportunities from the charity stripe. Ohio shot 25-for-38 from the free throw line.
Forward Hannah Boesinger stressed the importance of sinking free throws, especially as games become closer.
“We shot a lot of free throws today and we made the majority of them, so that’s a big deal for us to get better,” Boesinger said.
Ohio will have another week of practices without classes in preparation for next Saturday’s matchup in Greenville, N.C., against East Carolina.