Taylor Agler walks off the court during Ohio’s game against North Kentucky on Nov. 21. Ohio won 58-41.
Mid-American Conference play hasn’t started yet, but at 5-0, Ohio is tied with Buffalo for first in the conference’s east division.
Ohio has started the season well, but it has already experienced adversity. From playing against tough zone defenses to early-season injuries — Katie Barker and Kelly Karlis are two notable players out with injury — Ohio’s season hasn’t been perfect.
Ohio will be tested again Saturday when it plays Duquesne (4-3) in The Convo at 1 p.m. A team that boasts a post presence, Duquesne is similar to Ohio’s previous opponent: Middle Tennessee State. Ohio defeated Middle Tennessee State 73-52 on Wednesday.
“I think they’ll be the best team we play to date,” coach Bob Boldon said.
Boldon said the Dukes’ post players are more athletic than the Blue Raiders, and that the Bobcats will need to figure out if they are faster than them.
“It will be quite a challenge,” Boldon said about Ohio’s game against Duquesne. “Rebounding again will be a challenge, it’s something that we have to continue to try to correct.”
Middle Tennessee State out-rebounded Ohio by 18 and the Blue Raiders held the Bobcats to shooting 42.1 percent from the field.
Ohio will need Jasmine Weatherspoon, the team’s main post player, to use her 6-foot-2 frame to grab rebounds and block shots. Duquesne has three players who are 6-foot-3, along with two who are 6-foot-2.
Weatherspoon, who leads the team in blocks with eight, will be tasked with stopping the Dukes’ inside game.
“I guess limit their post touches and do a better job of boxing out,” Weatherspoon said about defending the Dukes’ inside presence.
Ohio will need more players than Weatherspoon, however, to grab rebounds. Duquesne averages 41.6 rebounds per game, which ranks them No. 2 in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“We just have to do a better job of getting everybody engaged in rebounding,” Boldon said. “I mean our defense in the second half (of Middle Tennessee) was tremendous because with everybody engaged in guarding. You just have to have the same kind of mindset with rebounding the basketball.”
Last season, Ohio lost at Duquesne 64 – 47, and a lack of solid ball movement was a key factor in the loss.
And because of that, Ohio wants to have better ball movement against Duquesne than it did last season.
“We didn’t find people and we took some really, really tough shots,” Boldon said of last season’s game against Duquesne. “They’re good defensively, they’re very long. So when you’re playing against good defensive teams, your ball movement has to be better, not worse.”