CMU women drops second straight game, falling 93-84 to Ohio
CMU showed a new wrinkle it hadn't shown much this season. Then again, it hadn't really had to in its first 10 games.
Coach Heather Oesterle turned to a full-court pressure defense with just about six minutes remaining in the game, and soon a 17-point Ohio lead was just five. With the defensive intensity turned up, the Chippewas forced 11 fourth quarter turnovers.
And yet, it wasn't enough to dig out of the deficit. The Chippewas fell to Ohio, 93-84, Jan. 16 at McGuirk Arena, suffering their second consecutive loss.
"When we started pressing in the fourth quarter, that's us, that's Central Michigan," Oesterle said. "That's the energy we need to play with. But right now, we're lacking that energy."
Ohio (6-4, 4-3) found success early in transition, with point guard Cece Hooks dishing to Caitlyn Kroll for a pair of open 3-pointers from the wing. Soon after, the Chippewas (7-4, 5-2) fell into foul trouble as senior forward Kyra Bussell picked up fouls on back-to-back possessions.
Without her presence, the Chippewas struggled to defend inside and Ohio ran out to a 26-14 lead after the first quarter.
"The first quarter, the last two games, we've gotten punched hard and we haven't fought back," Oesterle said. "That's the disappointing part because this team is better than that"
The struggles continued into the second quarter, with Hooks getting into a rhythm. The Chippewa defense locked in and strung together stops, thanks in part to the efforts of redshirt junior Sophia Karasinski and freshman Rachel Loobie in place of Bussell, who sat with foul trouble.
Offensively, Molly Davis hit shots to keep the Chippewas afloat. Ohio stretched its lead to as much as 14, but CMU was able to stay close. Thanks to Watters' 3-pointer and the defense holding Ohio scoreless for the final 2:17, CMU trailed by just nine, 41-32, at halftime.
The two teams traded baskets on their first three possessions of the third quarter. CMU was able to get back within seven points, but Ohio reeled off seven unanswered points to match its largest lead of the game with 6:32 remaining in the third.
Ohio answered each time the Chippewas tried to make a push. A Watters jumper was answered by a Gabi Burris 3-pointer. Micaela Kelly's layup was matched by a 3-point play from Hooks. The Bobcats were able to keep CMU at bay for a majority of the third before CMU finished with a Kelly 3-pointer to cut the lead to 13, 65-52, after three.
Late in the third quarter, Davis suffered a leg injury attempting to take a charge. She limped to the sideline after being helped to her feet but returned early in the fourth. She hit a 3-pointer upon returning, but that was answered by an Erica Johnson triple for Ohio to regain a 16-point advantage. Davis fouled out with just over seven minutes remaining, finishing her day with 20 points.
Kelly tried to keep her team alive, hitting two 3-pointers late in the fourth. Each time, however, the Bobcats converted their two free throw attempts. Sophomore guard Annika Weekes' turnover with 10 seconds left led to two free throws by Johnson that proved to be the dagger.
After allowing 15 made 3-pointers to Northern Illinois in its last game, the Chippewas surrendered nine made triples to the Bobcats. Defensively, too many opportunities were self-inflicted by the Chippewas, who committed 22 turnovers and allowed nine offensive rebounds.
Kelly finished with a game high 34 points. Smith had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds and Watters finished with nine. For Ohio, Hooks and Johnson each had 26.
CMU returns to action at 7 p.m. Jan. 20 against Eastern Michigan in McGuirk Arena.