Women's basketball falters against Ohio
Time and time again the Central Michigan women's basketball team found itself searching for answers of how to stop Ohio's guards from getting to the rim.
And over and over again, they couldn't find an answer.
The Chippewas (16-6, 7-3 Mid-American Conference) fell to Ohio (20-2, 9-2 MAC) in a marquee matchup on Feb. 9 at McGuirk Arena.
In the process, CMU senior guard Presley Hudson broke the program's career scoring record, surpassing Melvin McLaughlin who had 2,071 points.
Ohio sunk four triples in the game’s first four minutes to open up a 12-5 lead.
CMU looked sloppy early, forcing passes that were intercepted by the Bobcats’ defense.
Despite Hudson’s offensive push, the Chippewas struggled to stop Ohio defensively. Time and time again, a Bobcat drove past her defender with little resistance and either finished easily at the rim or kicked the ball out to a wide open teammate.
“We looked like a sieve,” said head coach Sue Guevara.
The deficit grew to 12 as the first half drew to a close, with Ohio leading 42-30.
Junior forward Gabrielle Bird recovered her own miss and dropped it in for two with a minute to play in the second quarter, then converted 1-of-2 free throws after being fouled as she attempted to beat the buzzer.
Going into the half, the Chippewas trailed, 45-34.
CMU gave up an appalling 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, something that made Guevara very upset.
“We didn’t box out and we got outhustled for rebounds, especially on the weak side,” Guevara said.
The Chippewas were also a paltry 7-of-14 from the free throw line in the first two quarters.
Second half surge
Ohio started right where it left off to begin the second half, going on a speedy 8-0 run to stretch the lead to 53-34 in the first two minutes of the third quarter.
A block by freshman forward Jahari Smith led to ball movement on the offensive end and resulted in a Hudson 3-pointer. The crowd roared as the Chippewas cut the lead to 14 on the play.
Throughout the game, the fans remained engaged, often voicing their frustration over calls by the officiating crew. Senior forward Reyna Frost was forced to leave the game early in the third, having committed her third personal foul.
The Bobcats’ lead remained close to 15 for most of the third quarter. Hudson's winding layup trimmed the score to 67-54 as the third quarter horn sounded.
Within a span of 90 seconds, Ohio’s lead was down to only seven. CMU clamped down on defense, and a pair of physical drives in transition led to four points from sophomore guard Micaela Kelly.
Crowd noise reached new heights as Hudson drained a triple from the left wing, making the score 67-63 with 6:37 to play.
The Chippewas slapped on some intense pressure, which caused Ohio to scramble and become careless with the ball. After forcing a pair of turnovers, CMU found itself down 69-67 with 4:26 remaining.
Unable to clinch
It was the Chippewas’ turn to get sloppy coming out of the media timeout. Ohio went on an 8-1 run to make it 76-68 at the three minute mark.
Ohio began stalling with just less than two minutes to play. CMU opted to let them hold the ball, but then committed a foul with 1:19 on the clock.
Hudson forced a turnover with 50 seconds remaining, but then was called for a charge as she bulled in for the transition layup.
The Chippewas got the ball back on an Ohio turnover, but CMU was unable to convert even after two out-of bounds calls were given to the Chippewas following official reviews.
Two missed free throws by the Bobcats led to a bank-in triple by Hudson, cutting the lead to 76-73.
Ohio then converted two free throws, making it 78-73.
Kelly missed two 3-pointers on the other end. By the time Kelly rebounded her second miss and was fouled on the putback, only 0.3 seconds remained.
Both free throws swished through, but the Chippewas could not foul quickly enough out of the timeout. The game ended with the Bobcats prevailing, 78-75.
Hudson led CMU with 28 points in her record-breaking performance, while Reyna Frost contributed 18 points and 10 rebounds.
For the Bobcats, Cierra Hooks scored 28, mostly by driving to the hoop and finishing layups.
CMU finished 14-of-24 from the free throw line, which Guevara cited as the deciding factor in the game.
With the loss, the Chippewas are still atop the MAC West Division standings, but Ohio strengthens its grip on the No. 1 overall seed in the MAC.
CMU will face off against Western Michigan (8-11, 2-6) on Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. in Kalamazoo.
Although WMU has struggled thus far in the season, it's a rivalry game.