Ohio sophomore guard Amani Burke (#3) drives to the basket during the Bobcats’ 78-56 loss to Miami on Wednesday. (FILE)
Bob Boldon knows the Mid-American Conference has been good this season.
Ohio isn’t part of the MAC’s elite, which consists of Central Michigan and Buffalo. The Bobcats are part of the middle, where no team is significantly better than the other.
Thing is, the bottom of the conference isn’t too bad, either. Ohio lost to Akron 62-59 on the road Saturday in its last game of the regular season. The loss marks Ohio’s third in the row. It’s the only time this season the Bobcats have lost three games in a row.
“Everybody can beat us, as proven tonight,” Boldon said.
The Bobcats were without their top scorer and best defender in Cierra Hooks, who suffered an injury Wednesday against Miami. Still, the Bobcats they produced on offense in the first quarter.
But during the second and third quarters, the Bobcats went through lulls on offense. They only made five field goals between the two quarters, shooting below 20 percent from the field in both.
The Bobcats started to move out of their offensive lull near the end of the third quarter. They still weren’t making shots, but they were more aggressive. In the last 2:54 of the third quarter, the Bobcats shot eight free throws. They only made two of them, but their aggressiveness needed to increase on the offensive end.
With under 12 seconds left in the game, the Bobcats were down 60-57. They didn’t necessarily need a 3-pointer, but they did need a quick bucket. Amani Burke drove to the hoop after Ohio had a timeout, and her basket cut the lead to 60-59.
Then, on the next possession, Dominique Doseck fouled Shaunay Edmonds. Edmonds made two free throws, and the Bobcats were down 62-59.
Katie Barker shot an open 3-pointer in the corner on Ohio’s last possession, but she missed.
“I thought they did a good job executing that last play, and we got a good look,” Boldon said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t make it.”
Taylor Agler fouled out near the end of the game, but she was the linchpin for the Bobcats. Agler, a redshirt senior, scored 16 points, grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds and totaled four assists. She led the team in scoring and rebounds, and she provided energy on both ends in her first double-double of the season
“I’m happy for her, you know, double-doubles are hard to come by,” Boldon said. “She’s a very good player who had a very good career. And to illustrate how difficult it is to have a double, she got hers her last regular season game of her career.”
The Zips entered Saturday’s game last in the conference, and the Bobcats were ranked fifth. Ohio had nine conference wins, and Akron only had two. But that didn’t matter.
The MAC has been tough this season.
“This conference is pretty good. A lot of good teams,” Boldon said. “The tournament is going to be exciting. I’m anxious to see how it goes. Still hopeful that we can kind of put something together.”
The Bobcats hold the fifth seed in the MAC Tournament, and they will host the Zips in a first-round game Monday.