Women’s basketball shows signs of improvement in loss to Ohio
Although Central Michigan women’s basketball (3-12, 1-5) couldn’t shut down the high-powered Ohio offense on Saturday, resulting in a 75-65 loss, they showed signs of progress.
“I told the team, ‘I think all the extra work that they’re putting in is paying off,’” said head coach Heather Oesterle. “I was very encouraged by our performance today, I thought we played much better. I thought the ball moved, offensively, a whole lot better than it has moved in the last couple of games and I thought our freshman gave us really good minutes.”
The Bobcats (8-4, 2-1) came into the contest as the top team in the Mid-American Conference in offensive production, averaging 79.3 points per game. Going into the game, Ohio had three players in the top-15 for scoring led by senior Cierra Hooks' 22 points per game.
“They love to fire the three-ball, and they have two very dynamic players in Hooks and Johnson,” Oesterle said. “So our goal was to run them off the three-point line, then try to attack the paint when you’re off the ball to help on Hooks driving to the basket. I thought we did a nice job in the first half.”
The Chippewas tweaked the starting lineup again, giving junior forward Anika Weekes the nod. As a result, CMU forced the Bobcats into contested shots as they went 0-for-8 from three in the first quarter.
“I think that’s one of the best defensive games we’ve had as a team,” said freshman guard Tiana Timpe. “We were very happy with how we performed on the defensive end. We know that we can still do better.”
Moving to the bench didn't phase Timpe as she found success from range. The Chippewas held the lead through 15 minutes, as they focused on making the extra pass leading to open looks.
“In the first half, we got a lot of really good shots... they just weren’t falling,” Oesterle said. “I think once those shots start falling, a lot of good shots for Molly Davis that just didn’t fall..”
In addition to missed shots, CMU struggled to maintain possession of the ball as they tallied 15 turnovers in the first half.
Because of how they crashed the boards, the lapses in offense didn't cost the Chippewas immediately as they out-rebounded Ohio 29-14 through two quarters.
Things looked to be going CMU’s way, then a season-long issue resurfaced. Ohio began to find a flow on the offensive end of the floor late in the second quarter and used a 17-9 run to take a six-point lead into the break.
“Our problem right now is that when teams go on runs, without me calling a timeout, we can’t get it stopped,” Oesterle said. “That’s one thing we’re going to focus on a lot in practice, is like if I don’t have a timeout or can’t burn one, us being able to stop a run and then go on a run of our own. I think that’s something we have to get better at.”
The Chippewas kept fighting throughout the second half, cutting the lead to one at multiple points. However, Ohio held on to secure its second MAC victory.
“The unforced turnovers, the travel calls, the not pass-faking when we know they’re good at steals, those turnovers we need to clean up,” Oesterle said. “That’s been something that’s hurt us all season, and they scored 23 points off our turnovers. It’s something we’ll continue to work on, but if you look at it, everybody had turnovers, so we got to do a much better job valuing the basketball.”
- CMU’s leading scorer this year has been junior guard Molly Davis. In 36 minutes, she recorded 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Davis’ performance moves her past Niki DiGuilio into seventeenth for points scored all-time in a Chippewas’ uniform.
Davis sits at 1,272 points and is nine points from overtaking Brandie Baker for sixteenth.
While Davis has been the offensive leader for the Chippewas, multiple players have made their presence felt in other ways.
- CMU won the rebound battle 41-30, as senior center Jahari Smith and junior forward Anika Weekes continued their dominance on the glass, recording 11 apiece.
- The Chippewas’ bench helped buoy them on Saturday. Freshman guard Hanna Knoll added five points and recorded career-highs in rebounds (four), assists (three) and steals (2). Timpe knocked down five three-pointers to finish with 15 points, her fifth double-digit scoring performance of the season.
“The goal is, really it’s like, you know what, we’re not winning games, so we got to work harder,” Oesterle said. “That might not be just physical work, mental work too, with watching film. I think our assistants are doing a good job of getting them in and getting shots up. They’re doing the extra stuff. I think this group could be very special once we all start clicking, but I’m proud of the work they’re putting in.”
The Chippewas look to snap a four-game losing streak when they head to Bowling Green, Ohio, to face the Falcons on Wednesday at 7 p.m.