burke.- akron - 2-6-19

Bobcat guard Amani Burke moves past the Akron defense Wednesday night at the Convo in an Ohio victory, 92-70. 

By the end of the day on Saturday, just 16 Division I women’s basketball teams had reached 20 wins.

Five of those teams come from the Atlantic Coast Conference, three of which are ranked in the Top Ten. Four of these 20-win teams are not ranked at all. That includes the Ohio Bobcats.

Ohio (20-2, 9-2 Mid-American Conference) did receive a vote in a poll in early January. At the time, Ohio was 12-0 having just defeated the Buffalo Bulls. Up next were the Central Michigan Chippewas, also receiving votes, on Jan. 9 in the Convocation Center.

That day, the Bobcats lost an ugly 88-70 game to the Chippewas. CMU, fresh off an NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance, looked like it could reclaim its spot as MAC Champions and a national contender. Since that game, the Chippewas have gone 5-3 while the Bobcats have gone 8-1, suffering one loss to the Miami RedHawks on Jan. 30.

Included in that stretch is Ohio’s trip to Central Michigan this past Saturday. This time, Ohio led for the entire game and staved off a fourth quarter comeback just long enough to leave with a 78-75 victory. It was the Ohio women’s 20th victory, the seventh time in program history the ’Cats reached that mark and the fourth time under head coach Bob Boldon.

Miami, the cross-state rival that beat Ohio three times last season and in the only game they’ve played this season, is the closest MAC team to reaching 20 wins. The RedHawks are 17-4.

Ohio’s best season in program history was 2014-15, Coach Boldon’s second season at the helm. The Bobcats went 27-5, won the MAC and played in the NCAA Tournament. The current Bobcats could reach the 27-win mark by winning out the regular season and add more victories in the MAC Tournament.

However, it’s unlikely that Ohio can win out the final seven games of the regular season. The MAC is talented, competitive and on track to have multiple teams reach the national tournament. Winning the MAC Tournament and getting an automatic bid would clearly be the easiest way to make a national appearance.

Before the Bobcats can start to worry about tournament runs, they’ll take the season one game at a time.

The Ohio women next visit Toledo (14-7, 6-4 MAC) this Wednesday. The Rockets sit at second in the MAC West Division, one game behind the Chippewas. Ohio and Toledo will tip off at 7 p.m. in a game that can be watched on ESPN+.

Men’s Basketball

Including last season’s loss to Miami in the MAC Tournament and Saturday’s 79-59 loss, the Bobcat men fell to the RedHawks in consecutive games for the first time under head coach Saul Phillips.

Ohio (11-11, 3-7 MAC) is sitting on a three-game losing streak for the first time this season. The Bobcats also slipped to .500 for the first time since falling to 2-2 on Nov. 18. The season had not been a full two weeks old at that point.

The Bobcats have faced mighty struggles scoring and this serious issue has caught up to them fully in conference play. Ohio’s 43.1 percent field goal percentage is the third-worst in the MAC. Its 29.7 percent three-point shooting percentage is the worst in the MAC and better than only 17 teams in Division I.

The Bobcats host Eastern Michigan this Tuesday. Ohio and Easter Michigan are two of the three MAC teams to not have a record above .500. Ohio, in last place in the MAC East Division, is the only team in the East to not have an overall record above .500.

Ohio and Eastern Michigan will tip off at 7 p.m. in a game that can be watched on ESPN+.

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