Ohio’s Gabby Burris makes her way down the court during the Bobcats’ game against Northern Illinois on Wednesday. The Bobcats defeated the Huskies 77-75. (FILE)
Winning two games in a row has been difficult for Ohio this season.
The Bobcats have only done it two other times, the last being when they defeated North Carolina A&T and Toledo to end 2017.
Katie Barker and the Bobcats know they’ve struggled stringing together consecutive wins. That’s why the 77-75 win against Northern Illinois on Wednesday was the Bobcats’ best of the season.
The Bobcats will end January in Oxford at Millett Hall on Saturday, when they’ll play Miami at 1 p.m. Ohio will look to accomplish something it hasn’t done since the beginning of the season: win three games in a row.
For the Bobcats, the win against the Huskies marked a potential shift in confidence. Ohio (11-8, 5-3 Mid-American Conference) had its second-best 3-point shooting outing of the season.
The Bobcats shot 42.9 percent from deep, and Barker was the leader of the Bobcats’ best shooting game since defeating Purdue on the road in December.
Barker scored a career-high 24 points and made eight 3-pointers, the most a Bobcat has made in a game this season. Barker’s eight 3-pointers are also the most a Bobcat has made in a game since March 2016, when Kiyanna Black, the program’s No. 3 all-time scorer, made seven 3-pointers against Bowling Green.
Still, while Barker and the Bobcats shot well, it’s still only one game. They have to keep doing this.
“Hopefully it’s a sign of what’s to come, but I don’t know,” coach Bob Boldon said. “It’s just one game. We’ll see if we can replicate it down the stretch.”
As the Bobcats prepare for the Redhawks, they have a chance to replicate the shooting output they had against Northern Illinois. The Bobcats were slowed down on offense when they went to Millett Hall last season, only shooting 33.3 percent from the 3-point line in the first half.
The Redhawks took the Bobcats out of their offense, closing driving lanes so that the Bobcats struggled to create ample space for shooters.
In the second half, though, the Bobcats shot 53.8 percent from the 3-point-line.
Though the Bobcats will need to shoot well against the Redhawks. But what’s also going to be important is how many points in the paint they allow.
Northern Illinois scored 44 points in the paint Wednesday, and the Bobcats only tallied 22.
“They just kicked our ass in the paint,” Boldon said after the game. “And that’s frustrating. We gotta get that fixed like tomorrow.”
The Redhawks (11-8, 3-5 MAC) have defeated Northern Illinois, Akron and Eastern Michigan so far in conference play. The Bobcats and other teams in the conference are beginning to jostle for position in the standings. Buffalo is the top team in the MAC East, with Ohio right behind at No. 2; Miami and Kent State are tied for No. 3.
As conference play goes on, continuing to win will be important. That’s because the Bobcats are one of four teams that have five conference wins, with Ball State, Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan being the others.
Buffalo (15-3, 6-1 MAC) and Central Michigan (15-3, 7-0 MAC) are the conference’s elite, but Ohio is in the middle.
A win against Miami on Saturday provides the Bobcats a chance to separate themselves.