EVANSTON, Ill. – The Ohio Women's Basketball team's (30-6, 14-4 MAC) Women's National Invitation Tournament ended in the quarterfinals at Northwestern (20-14, 9-9 Big Ten) when Ohio fell, 61-58, at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
"It was a well-played game and it was wonderful to be a part of such an experience," head coach Bob Boldon said. "We wish it went a little different down the stretch. I thought Erica (Johnson) did a good job with the two plays we drew up for her, in the end it just didn't go our way. It wasn't because of a lack of effort."
Ohio finished the season with 30 wins, the most in team history. The Bobcats' run to the quarterfinals of the WNIT is the farthest the team has made it in the tournament.
"We're disappointed right now, and obviously we'll be disappointed for a few days, but at some point, tomorrow the sun will rise and life will go on and we'll have the chance to reflect," Boldon added. "I think this is something the girls will look back on and be pretty proud of, I know I'm proud of them. It just hurts right now. It wasn't a lack of effort, that's for sure. We played a team that was a little bit better than us tonight, not a lot better, but a little bit better. That's what you get when you start these high level teams, you know, the margin for error is pretty slim. It didn't go our way tonight, but it certainly wasn't because of a lack of effort."
Ohio shot 38.5 percent (20-of-52) from the field and 30.4 percent (7-of-23) from the three-point line. Northwestern shot 37.8 percent (17-of-45) and 33.3 (4-of-12) from behind the arc. Ohio was 11-of-16 from the free throw line while Northwestern was 23-of-29.
"I think the program is in good shape, and I'm certainly excited to see what we can do moving forward," Boldon added. "This was a wonderful learning experience playing these games, these teams and in this environment. I thought (Northwestern) had a decent crowd. With the amount of kids coming back, hopefully next year we can do this in another tournament or go further in this tournament again."
The Bobcats were led by redshirt freshman Erica Johnson (Mansfield, Ohio) who was 7-of-16 from the field and 2-of-6 from three for 17 points. Johnson added three rebounds and two assists.
Sophomore guard Cece Hooks (Dayton, Ohio) had 15 points on 5-of-17 shooting. Hooks knocked down five free throws and added a team-high four assists and three rebounds.
Junior guard Amani Burke (Columbus, Ohio) added 14 points on 4-of-12 from the field and 3-of-9 from deep. Burke was 3-of-4 from the charity stripe and produced five rebounds and three assists.
Sophomore forward Gabby Burris (Baltimore, Ohio) was a perfect 3-of-3 tonight and made two free throws for nine points. Burris had a team-high six rebounds and three assists.
Ohio took a 16-14 lead into the first break. The Bobcats started hot shooting 7-of-13 from the field while making two threes. Burke made both of those threes and had eight points overall. Johnson added four while Burris and Hooks had two each. Ohio held NU to 5-of-14 shooting.
Each team scored 17 in the second quarter, putting Ohio at up 33-31 at the half. Ohio weas led by Hooks in the second frame with six points, and Johnson, Burris and redshirt freshman Kaylee Bambule had three. The Bobcats shot 6-of-14 from the field and 2-of-8 from deep. NU shot 10 free throws in the period and made seven.
Ohio extended their lead to eight in the third quarter after outscoring the Wildcats 16-10. The Bobcats held NU to just 4-of-11 shooting and did not allow a three to go in. Johnson and Hooks each had five while Burris and Burke had three each.
Northwestern came back after outscoring the Bobcats 20-9 in the final frame. With the Bobcats up three, Burke and Hooks fouled out in the fourth quarter. Northwestern took the lead with 1:09 left to go in the quarter on two free throws and then knocked down two more with eight seconds left to go up three. Johnson had a good look from three to tie the game but the shot did not go in.