Jillian Hayes scored eight points and four rebounds during the University of Cincinnati women's basketball game against Memphis on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, at Fifth-Third Arena.

The Cincinnati Bearcats women’s basketball team have just completed their 2021-22 season, finishing with an overall record of 11-16 and an American Athletic Conference (AAC) record of 4-11. The Bearcats ended the season in the AAC’s last place. 

The Bearcats were a team with ups and downs this season. Highs included beating the top AAC team, the University of Central Florida (UCF), at home in Fifth Third Arena. Lows this season included the five-game losing streak in the beginning of February. 

Looking back on the season, the Bearcats showed that they are a team that needs some improvement in certain areas. However, they also were able to show off their ability to fight, band together, and not give up. Here is a look at some of the notable factors that effected the Bearcats this season.

Key struggles

A big part of the team’s struggles fell on the defensive side of the ball. Cincinnati ranks the lowest out of all AAC teams in scoring defense, averaging 66.19 points allowed per game. The Bearcats were also the lowest defensive rebounding team in the conference and finished 10th in total offensive rebounds. 

With the defense struggling to change possession, it had an effect on the offensive efficiency as well. The Bearcats finished last in scoring margin and just 10th in total scoring offense.

Key success

Despite not having the record they wanted, the Bearcats still have shown that they excel in some areas. The Bearcats shot well from beyond the arc this season, having the 6th most three-pointers in the AAC and also finishing 5th in three-point percentage. 

Cincinnati was also one of the best passing teams in the conference, having 386 total assists and finishing 4th. The Bearcats were also very efficient at the free-throw line this season, finishing 4th with a free-throw average of 72.74%.

Key players

Sophomore guard Jillian Hayes was the Bearcats’ scoring leader this season. Hayes finished 15th in the AAC, having 317 total points and averaged 11.7 points per game. Hayes was also the team’s best rebounder, finishing with 185 total and having the 10th most in the conference.

In terms of passing, there was no one better in the ACC than Akira Levy. Levy averaged a conference high 5.6 assists per game and finished the season with 146 total. Levy also finished 20th in scoring, finishing with 281 total points and averaging 10.8 a game. 

Hayes and Levy both were near the top of the AAC in steals as well. Hayes recorded a total of 60, while Levy recorded a total of 58 on the season. When the Bearcats were in need of a three, junior guard Caitlyn Wilson was the main target. Wilson has the most three-point field goals made in the AAC this year, having knocked down 57 total this season. 

AAC tournament preview

The Bearcats will head into the AAC tournament as the No. 11 seed and lowest in the conference. Cincinnati will face the No. 6 Houston Cougars in the first round, playing on March 7 at 6 p.m. In their only meeting this season, the Bearcats bested the Cougars 72-56 at Houston.