Ohio senior forward Jasmine Weatherspoon looks for an open teammate to pass to during the first half of the Bobcat’s 79-68 win over Bowling Green on March 1.
Before Quiera Lampkins started to carry Ohio on Monday, free throw attempts kept the Bobcats in the game.
It was the free throws that gave the Bobcats a chance, but Lampkins’ scoring efforts made that chance a reality.
With Eastern Michigan choosing to play slow — initially Ohio matched its pace — Ohio was seemingly doomed. The Bobcats couldn’t make a shot, either, which for obvious reasons, never helps.
But the Bobcats’ 22 free throw attempts helped.
Despite the Eagles trying to play as slow as possible, the Bobcats prevailed, defeating the Eagles 63-49 in The Convo to advance to the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
At the end of the first half, Lampkins only had six points. She wasn’t a factor yet, but the team’s free throws were.
The Bobcats only missed one of their 10 free throws during the half, trying to earn points at the free throw line as they struggled to make shots from the floor.
“We were literally on our way home,” coach Bob Boldon said. “I thought we had very little chance of winning the basketball game until she (Lampkins) started scoring.”
Without the free throw attempts and Lampkins’ 30 points, Ohio probably wouldn’t have made the trip to Cleveland, the site of the MAC Tournament.
The Bobcats’ season perhaps would be over, and they would have taken an undeniable setback as a program. Ohio hasn’t lost in the first round of the MAC Tournament in three years, when Boldon started coaching the team.
The Bobcats didn’t gain a lead until 7:07 was left in the second quarter. Amani Burke, who led the team with eight free throw attempts, had hit two free throws to put the Bobcats up 19-17.
From that point, the Bobcats only gave up the lead one other time, the Eagles going up by two points with 8:10 left in the third quarter.
After that, the team didn’t have to rely on free throws as much.
Lampkins made winning a possibility. Lampkins scored 22 points after the Eagles took that small lead.
Lampkins, the team’s best player, has a stark effect on the Bobcats. When she plays well, the Bobcats do, too.
But if she plays slightly average, the Bobcats plummet.
Lampkins was only four points shy of posting a new career-high. Her career-high 33 points came against Western Michigan on Jan. 2, 2016. The Bobcats struggled to score during that game, too.
But they also shot 21 free throws.
Perhaps Ohio, a team that doesn’t prefer to play fast, thrives at the free throw line when the game’s pace is too slow. And the Eagles certainly made the game as slow as it could be.
But even with those free throws, the game still showed Lampkins’ value. Even when the Bobcats found a temporary solution in shooting free throws, they eventually gravitated to her.
“For our program, and for our team, it was maybe her (Lampkins) best game ever,” Boldon said.