Ohio sophomore guard Amani Burke (#3) drives to the hoop during the Bobcats’ game against Bowling Green in The Convo on Saturday.
Amani Burke doesn’t know if trapping would work against every team.
What Burke does know, however, is that it was effective against Bowling Green.
Ohio wanted to use different defensive schemes against Bowling Green on Saturday, whether it was trapping on the Falcons’ ball screens or switching on them. The Bobcats forced 22 turnovers, and they defeated the Falcons 69-58 in The Convo.
“I think the goal was to just put more pressure on them than usual,” Burke said. “Because they ball screen so much, so we wanted to make sure that most of their ball screens were trapped and some of them were switched.”
Though the Bobcats have played good perimeter defense this season, they usually don’t trap opponents as hard as they did against the Falcons.. This is something the Bobcats have done, but they haven’t done it often. Rather, they’ll trap when the opportunity is present.
But against Bowling Green, most of Ohio’s defense consisted of trapping the Falcons near the sideline or near the middle of the floor.
“(Coach Bob Boldon) came up with a new game plan to try and take away our (guards) and some of our ball screen action,” Falcons coach Jennifer Roos said. “They haven’t done that really all season long.”
Boldon has used game plans for specific teams before. Though his Bobcats usually play aggressive man-to-man defense, Boldon did use a zone schemelast season against Eastern Michigan.
The Bobcats have the athleticism to trap, but that’s not something they need to do regularly. They’ve done it before, even if it’s in spurts. But it’s not something they’ll need to rely on.
Still, this specific game plan for Bowling Green worked.
As the Bobcats led in the fourth quarter, they forced seven turnovers to help seal the game. The Falcons shot the ball well from the 3-point line, and the Bobcats’ transition defense wasn’t good.
“We weren’t talking very well or communicating with each other,” Taylor Agler said. “And sometimes we were just getting fatigued and not even getting back, which led to a lot of open shots for them.”
With 7:11 left in the game, Cierra Hooks stole the ball from Falcons guard Caterrion Thompson. The steal led to Agler making a 3-pointer, increasing the Bobcats’ lead to 58-46.
Ohio didn’t earn its largest lead of the game until about a minute was left. The Bobcats didn’t force a turnover in the last 5:27, but they held the Falcons to nine points during that span.
The Bobcats also scored only nine points during that same span, but they maintained the lead, making five free throws in the last 1:58 to close the game.
For Ohio, these are the games that will help build experience for the Mid-American Conference tournament. The Bobcats used a defensive game plan that they don’t usually do. But they executed it well.
“Kudos to them for making that adjustment just for this game in particular,” Roos said.