Back on track

Ohio University women’s basketball coach Bob Boldon and the Bobcats are 8-1 after a 63-55 win over Binghamton on Monday night in the Convocation Center.

At some point, be it next week, next month or next season, Bob Boldon said everyone is going to finally realize how special a player Kiyanna Black has been for the Ohio University women’s basketball program.

Black, meanwhile, is hoping for one more special performance to keep Ohio’s season alive.

Ohio (26-6) plays at Temple (22-11) on Thursday night in a third-round game in the 2016 Women’s NIT (WNIT). Tip-off inside McGonigle Hall is set for 7 p.m.

Ohio had never won a postseason game, let alone two, prior to this year. Black, a shooting guard long on moxie and short on height, is a big reason why.

Ohio’s second all-time leading scorer, Black has 1,769 points this season and leads the nation with 3.9 made 3-pointer per game. She has 126 made 3s on the season — a new program and Mid-American Conference record — and is just one away from tying the NCAA single-season mark.

Boldon is astounded at what Black has been able to accomplish.

“You just don’t see the things she’s done,” Boldon began. “She’s made 126 3-pointers in one season. That’s kind of absurd.

“The scouting report says don’t let this kid shoot. We were the best team in the conference and everybody is trying to beat us,” he continued. “Everyone we play knows this. And she’s still able to find, and make shots.

“It’s probably my fault that we didn’t make a bigger deal about this,” Boldon said. “Whenever that time comes, we’re to realize ‘Wow, this kid was really good.’”

That time might come Thursday. Black injured a shoulder during the Bobcats’ win over Virginia Tech on Sunday. She hasn’t practice much this week, but will likely give it a go in what could be her final game.

“Because she’s not 100 percent doesn’t mean she isn’t going to play a lot of minutes. I’m not sure it will have a lot of effect on the rotation,” Boldon said.

Forward Lexie Baldwin, one of Ohio’s three seniors with Black and Mariah Harris, has seen it before. Black has soldiered through injuries before.

“KB’s tough. She’s probably going to get out there and play,” Baldwin said. “Those points will be hard to fill if she’s not able to go. We’ll have to carry that weight.”

Ohio and Temple are just two of 12 teams remaining in the 64-team WNIT entering play on Thursday. The winner will travel to Michigan (20-13) for a tournament quarterfinal (final 8) game either Saturday or Sunday. If the Bobcats win, they’ll stay on the road and travel to directly to Ann Arbor.

Baldwin won’t complain if that’s the case. Ohio paid a combined $24,000 to host games in the first two rounds of the WNIT, and will need two road wins to make the final four. There is potential for another home game if the Bobcats keep winning.

“We just have to stick to our principles and what we’ve been doing all year long. We beat an ACC (Virginia Tech) team, that hasn’t been done here at OU,” she said. “If we stick to what we’re about, we’ll be alright.

“I didn’t think I’d be here (four years ago). It’s a good feeling going out like this,” Baldwin continued. “Every game is a blessing.”

To move on, Ohio will have to find a way to deal with the Owls, a two-point winner over Quinnipiac in the last round.

Temple has decent size, and exceptional athleticism. The Owls make their living by forcing turnovers (17.6 per game) and turning those into points on the other end.

Boldon said Temple is the most athletic team Ohio has faced in month, perhaps all season. Coupled with the first road trip of the postseason, and an injured Black, the Bobcats will have their work cut out for them.

“We haven’t see athleticism like this before. Maybe not since I’ve been here,” Boldon noted. “But we’ve responded well on year to these kind of pressures. We just need to do it again.”


Email at jarkley@athensmessenger.com; follow on Twitter @JasonAmessenger

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