DEKALB, Ill. – Behind a career night from redshirt freshman guard Erica Johnson (Mansfield, Ohio), the Ohio Women's Basketball team (16-1, 5-1 MAC) defeated Northern Illinois (11-7, 3-3 MAC), 69-53, inside the NIU Convocation Center on Wednesday night.
"Road wins in this conference, they're all important," head coach Bob Boldon said. "I think NIU is going to win a lot of games, they're definitely one of the better teams (in the MAC West). So to come up here and beat them is important from a numbers standpoint. This is a good win for us."
Johnson produced her first career double-double after a career-high 26 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Johnson added five assists off the bench in 31 minutes of play. The Mansfield, Ohio native was 9-of-13 from the field, 3-of-4 from the three-point line and 5-of-7 from the free throw line and was +15 on the floor.
"Erica (Johnson) made a couple of shots early and I think that gets anybody going," Boldon added. "I think it's easier to get going if you make your first two shots, and she did. You gotta give her credit too, she was in the fight. Her and Gabby get double figure rebounds and both earned them. Sometimes you can fall into two or three rebounds, but not double figure rebounds. They know rebounding is a deficiency of ours and they deserve credit for trying to fix it."
Johnson knows how important rebounding is for Ohio.
"I figured if we grabbed offensive rebounds and we didn't let them grab as many defensive rebounds, that would limit their transition," Johnson said. "We tried to harp on hitting the glass."
Johnson wasn't the only Bobcat with a double-double, as sophomore forward Gabby Burris (Baltimore, Ohio) had her third of the season with 12 points on 5-of-17 shooting and 10 rebounds. Burris added two free throws in 35 minutes of play while going +17.
"Rebound" is always written on the board for us," Burris said. "Rebounding is a big thing for us and I think we're holding each other accountable when we rebound."
Junior guard Amani Burke (Columbus, Ohio) finished in double figures with 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting. Burke added four rebounds and two assists. Senior guard Dominique Doseck (Athens, Ohio) knocked down two threes and had eight total points. Sophomore guard Cece Hooks (Dayton, Ohio) recorded three steals, six points and had four helpers in the win.
Ohio was 27-of-66 (40.9 percent) from the field as a team and was 8-of-26 (30.8 percent) from behind the arc. The Bobcats knocked down 7-of-10 free throws. Ohio outrebounded NIU 51-45 and had 38 points in the paint compared to NIU's 14. The Bobcats held NIU to 27.4 percent (20-of-73) shooting and the Huskies were 7-of-27 (25.9 percent) from deep.
Ohio started the first quarter trading buckets with NIU, but after going up 12-8, the Bobcats ended the quarter with an 8-0 run after media timeout to take a 20-8 advantage into the first quarter break. Ohio shot 8-of-19 from the field in the first quarter with Johnson putting up eight points and four rebounds in just six minutes on the floor. The Bobcats held NIU to 4-of-16 shooting and 1-of-6 from the three-point line.
NIU outscored the Bobcats 13-12 in the second quarter. The lead hovered around 10 for the entire period until Johnson made two free throws with 34 seconds left to go up 32-21. Ohio was led by Burke who knocked down a three and had five points overall. Ohio shot 4-of-16 in the quarter and was 1-of-6 from deep while NIU was 5-of-19 from the floor and 1-of-8 from the three-point line.
Ohio was 12-of-35 from the field in the first half and 3-of-15 from behind the three-point line. Johnson was one rebound short of a double-double at the half with 11 points and nine rebounds. Burris had eight at the half while Hooks had six.
Ohio and NIU each scored 15 points in the third quarter while Ohio was able to hold their 11 point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Burke knocked down two threes in the third period for a team-high six points in the quarter.
The Bobcats pulled away in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Huskies 22-17. Johnson had an impressive 14 points in the quarter, going 6-of-7 from the field and 1-of-1 from three. Ohio was 9-of-16 from the field and 3-of-4 from deep.
The Bobcats will be back in action on Saturday against Bowling Green. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.