Yamonie Jenkins going in for the layup during Ohio’s game against Western Michigan University on Wednesday (BLAKE NISSEN | FOR THE POST)
Photo taken by Blake Nissen
Coach Bob Boldon knew roughly a week and a half ago that his team wouldn’t have a first-round bye in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
Ohio passed out the itinerary for its home game next Monday, as it prepared to play a game on campus. The last time the Bobcats weren’t a top four seed in the tournament was in 2013-2014, Boldon’s first season.
“When we lost at Kent, we lost the bye,” Boldon said.
Kent State did what it was supposed to do Wednesday, defeating Miami. It sealed the No. 4 seed, officially shutting Ohio out of contention for the spot.
Though the Bobcats knew they wouldn’t be atop the MAC, they played Wednesday as if they wanted to be. Ohio defeated Bowling Green 79-68 in The Convo, earning its second-straight win.
Boldon’s realistic mindset about the Bobcats’ postseason status trickled to his team. After defeating the Falcons, Yamonie Jenkins and Quiera Lampkins sat at a table, their faces stoic.
“I don’t think that we handled this game the way that we really should have,” Jenkins said.
Ohio makes mistakes, whether it’s not running offense effectively or playing average defense. But it is running out of time to fix those mistakes. It’s running out of time to be the best team it can be as the tournament nears.
And Jenkins knows it.
“We can’t really have those breakdowns anymore,” Jenkins said. “We’re too late in the season to have the breakdowns that we did tonight.”
The Bobcats knew they shouldn’t expect a top four seed. Their mistakes were plentiful. Their shots weren’t falling, and their rebounding was poor. They were on a three-game losing streak before winning both of their previous two games.
So when they had to rely on the Golden Flashes losing, they weren’t hopeful of earning an easier track in the tournament.
“I honestly don’t think we deserve it,” Lampkins said of the bye. “We didn’t play well enough, and I feel like you gotta work hard for that.”
Despite the Bobcats having a tougher path to the tournament, they still think they’re viewed as a top team in the MAC.
The Falcons, who only have four conference wins, played the Bobcats as if they had a chance to go far in the tournament. The Falcons were always within reach, too, as Ohio’s largest lead was 13 points.
“I still think teams look at us as the team to beat regardless of what our record is,” Lampkins said. “Because they still get crazy excited when they beat us.”
“So excited,” Jenkins said under her breath.
Excited about beating Ohio? Perhaps teams like Bowling Green do still hold Ohio in high regard. The Bobcats, who have won at least 20 games for three consecutive seasons, have been MAC regular season champions for the past two years.
That’s not happening this year, but perhaps whoever Ohio plays Monday will be eager to have a chance at dethroning a team that’s not even at the top.
“What we’ve done in these past two years have set us on a high platform, a high standard where everyone wants to beat us,” Jenkins said.