ATHENS, Ohio – Led by Katie Barker's career-high 24 points and the game-winning steal and layup from Cierra Hooks, the Ohio women's basketball team outlasted Northern Illinois in a 77-75 thriller Wednesday night inside the Convocation Center.
To go along with Barker's (Cary, Ill.) 24 points and career-high eight three pointers, Hooks (Dayton, Ohio) added 16 points, Dominique Doseck (Athens, Ohio) scored 14 and Taylor Agler (Westerville, Ohio) registered a career-high 12 assists.
HOW IT WAS DECIDED
The Bobcats opened the game with the first points of the game, a layup from Agler. They retook the lead moments later when Doseck drained Ohio's first three-pointer of the game. Then with 7:27 left in the first, Barker drained her first three of the game, giving Ohio an 8-2 lead.
With 2:18 left in the first, Amani Burke (Columbus, Ohio) gave Ohio a five-point lead on a layup. But after NIU cut the lead to one with 1:37 left, a layup from Gabby Burris (Baltimore, Ohio) and another three from Barker would give the Bobcats a 19-13 lead with 49 seconds left. NIU would hit a three at the end of the quarter, but the Bobcats would lead 19-16 after one quarter.
Barker would start the scoring for Ohio in the second with another three-pointer, putting Ohio up 22-16 with 8:47 left in the period. Ohio would take a 24-18 lead with 7:25 left in the quarter after a layup from Hooks, but NIU would go on a 9-2 run to take a 27-26 lead with 3:06 left in the quarter.
NIU would go up five after a three-pointer with 1:43 left, but Ohio would cut the score to 34-32 after a three from Doseck. However, NIU would hit a three of their own with 25 seconds left, giving the Huskies the 37-32 lead at the half.
At halftime, Barker led the Bobcats with nine points, followed by Doseck and Hooks who both had six points.
NIU would open the third quarter up with a layup to put the Huskies up seven with 9:20 left. Barker would then drain another three with 8:06 to cut the lead to 39-35. Then a minute later, Barker would hit another three-pointer, cutting the NIU lead to 41-38. Then after a free throw from Hooks and a layup from Agler, Ohio would tie the game at 41-41 with 6:26 left in the quarter.
NIU would retake the lead on a layup, but two made free throws from Doseck and a three-pointer from Burris would give Ohio the 46-43 lead with 5:20 left. After NIU would cut the lead to one again with 3:22 left, the Bobcats would go on a 9-4 run that included three pointers from Agler, Doseck and Barker, giving Ohio a 58-52 lead after three quarters.
Barker would open the fourth quarter up just as she did in the third, with another three, giving Ohio a 61-52 lead with 8:33 left. Ohio would then take its biggest lead of the game after Doseck hit another three to give the Bobcats a 64-54 lead with 7:44 left.
With 4:44 left, NIU would go on a 6-0 run to cut the Ohio lead to 69-66 with 2:33 left. A layup from Hooks and then a three from Barker with 1:52 left would put the Bobcats up 74-66. Then after Hooks hit a free throw with 36 seconds left, NIU would go on a 7-0 run to tie the game with a layup with 17 seconds left.
Then with 13 seconds left, the Bobcats would turn the ball over, giving NIU with ball under the Ohio basket. Then with one second left, Hooks would steal the ball from the hands of the NIU player at midcourt, taking it to the rim and giving Ohio the 77-75 lead with two seconds left. NIU would be able to get a shot off at the buzzer, but it would just graze the rim, and the Bobcats would come away with the thrilling 77-75 victory inside the Convo.
Barker registered a career-high 24 points, going 8-of-13 from the field, and setting a career-high in three-pointers made. She also grabbed four rebounds.
The last time a Bobcat hit eight threes in a game was Nov. 30, 2014 when Mariah Byard hit eight against Manhattan. Kiyanna Black holds the program record with 10 in a game.
Hooks scored 16 points and went 7-of-13 from the field and 2-of-4 from the free throw line. She also grabbed one rebound and had six steals.
Doseck scored 14 points, going 4-of-11 from the field and 4-of-10 from three-point range and went 2-for-2 from the free throw line. She grabbed four rebounds, dished out two assists and had one steal.
Agler scored nine points, going 3-of-9 from the field and 1-of-4 from three-point range. She also grabbed six rebounds, three steals and recorded a career-high 12 assists.
The only other Bobcat to register 12 assists was Marti Heckman vs. Central Michigan (2/1/86). Heckman holds the program record with 14 steals in a game.
Burris added eight points, going 3-of-4 from the field, 1-of-2 from three-point range and grabbed a team-leading seven rebounds.
As a team, Ohio shot 27-of-64 (.422) from the field, hit a season-high 15 three points (15-of-35; .429) and 8-of-19 (.421) from the free throw line.
Ohio was outrebounded 43-35, but the Bobcats recorded 12 offensive boards compared to NIU's 11.
The Bobcats dished out 20 assists, had one block and registered 15 steals. Ohio also forced NIU to turn the ball over 21 times and scored 15 points off of them. Ohio scored 22 points in the paint and 24 bench points.
For NIU, Kelly Smith scored 18 points, followed by Courtney Woods with 17 and Gabby Nikitinaite with 11 points.
The Huskies shot 30-of-61 (.492) from the field, 6-of-21 (.286) from three-point range and 9-of-16 (.563) from the free throw line.
NIU also dished out 13 assists, has three steals and one block and forced Ohio to turn the ball over 16 times, scoring 14 points off of them. NIU also added 44 points in the paint and 12 second chance points.
The win was the 18th all-time against NIU.
The win was head coach Bob Boldon's 193rd career victory and his 94th at Ohio.
The win is the 558th in program history and the 291st MAC win.
Ohio now has 11 wins four the fourth-straight season and the fourth time under Boldon.
The game-winning steal and layup from Hooks was the second time this season that she registered that sequence. The last time was against Marshall on Nov. 22.
The win over NIU snapped a two-game losing streak against the Huskies.
"It was awesome (to end the game the way it did). I wish we had made our free throws because it was an issue, but we didn't. But I think that speaks to the character and toughness of our kids on the floor. From our perspective, whatever could go wrong in those last 30 seconds, did. From their perspective, whatever could go right, did. To be able to step-up and make a play, for Cece to have the mental toughness to put some plays behind her and make the play she did is very valuable, and very mature way in doing work. I'm very proud of them." — Head coach Bob Boldon
"It's been huge. Cece couldn't ask for a better role model in Taylor because Taylor has no ego. Taylor will tell you at times that Cece is better at some things than her. You don't find that in a lot of 21 and 22-year old kids. She's completely unselfish and she just wants this team to win." — Head coach Bob Boldon
"It felt good hitting my first three shots. As a shooter, if you hit your first three shots, or your first shot. Right away I felt good." – Katie Barker
The Bobcats return to action on Saturday, Jan. 27 when they head to Oxford, Ohio to take on Miami in the first installment of the 'Battle of the Bricks.' Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN3.