When the Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year is on the floor, life is easier for the Ohio Bobcats.
Ohio sophomore Cece Hooks played just eight first-half minutes before leading the Bobcats on a second-half comeback over Middle Tennessee State 59-57 in the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
Hooks’ offense came through at the right moment, too, in this second-round WNIT game at the Convocation Center in Athens. Tied 57-57 with just five seconds left, Hooks had the ball for one final possession and drove under the basket. The ball kissed the glass and went through for the victory.
Hooks received two fouls early in the game, which limited her to just eight minutes before the half. Meanwhile, the Raiders shut down the Bobcats and led 34-28 at halftime.
The Raiders’ offensive style is slow and deliberate, and Ohio’s fast-paced approach slowed to MTSU’s liking. Working at that pace, MTSU got the shots it wanted and converted 50 percent from the field. Ohio struggled to work offensively in the paint and shot just 37 percent from the field.
Hooks returning to the lineup to begin the third quarter provided an immediate spark to the offense, and Ohio went on a 9-2 run to begin the half. Ohio only outscored MTSU in one quarter, the third period, when the ’Cats scored 16 points while only allowing seven.
Hooks ended as the leading scorer for Ohio with 18 points, and her four steals had a marked impact. Redshirt freshman Erica Johnson added 11 points.
MTSU’s A’Queen Hayes had 17 points and 15 rebounds. MTSU outrebounded Ohio 44-30 during the game.
Middle Tennessee State finished its season with a 23-11 mark.
Ohio (29-5) advances to the third round of the WNIT. The Bobcats will play host again on Thursday at 7 p.m. against the winner of Morehead State and Western Kentucky.