Going into Wednesday's matchup with Ohio University, the women's basketball team knew it had to score a lot of points to win. But after an 85-74 victory, head coach Tracy Roller gave the credit to the defense.
"We were prepared for an offensive battle and for a long night," Roller said. "We knew whoever played better on defense would win. I thought that was us in the second half."
It was not all smooth sailing for the Cardinals, according to Roller.
"(The game) was a lot worse than I thought it was going to be," Roller said. "They jumped out to a 13-point lead, and we were just out of it from the start."
But behind the hot shooting of the underclassmen, the Cardinals (11-4 overall, 3-1 Mid-American Conference) stayed in the game and dropped the lead to nine at the half, Roller said. Sophomore Johna Goff and freshman Kate Endress both led team with 12 points.
"We had a 'spirited' discussion at half and I just challenged them," Roller said. "We weren't playing like we can play and I just let them know."
The second half was all defense for the Cardinals, as they held Ohio (7-8 overall, 2-2 MAC) to 22 points for the final 20 minutes after allowing 52 in the first half. Senior Shala Crook came off the bench to shut down Ohio's Andrea Gay, grabbing three steals and pulling down four rebounds.
"Johna and Kate played so well offensively in the first half; they really kept us in it," Roller said. "But it was Shala's pressure in the second half that helped pull away. It would have been a long night without those three."
Still, it took an eight-minute stretch by junior Tamara Bowie to seal the win, Roller said. Leading by only two, the foul-plagued Bowie scored all of her 17 points in eight minutes to extend the Cardinals lead to 11 points with four minutes to play.
"She was in a zone," Roller said. "OU kept switching players on her, but she was unstoppable. Ohio's coach said it best, 'Only Tamara Bowie can stop Tamara Bowie.'"
According to Roller, Ohio traded baskets with the Cards for the rest of the game, unable to make a serious charge at the lead. But Roller said it was nice to be in a "run-and-gun-style game," which the Cardinals were used to.
"There sure wasn't a lot of defense in the game," Roller said. "But it sure was fun to watch."