The Ohio State women's basketball team put together two really solid halves in their two games last week, shooting well and playing intense defense. The trouble is, they came in two different games. The Lady Buckeyes continued their Jekyll and Hyde routine, splitting their games with Michigan and Michigan State.
The team got revenge on the road against the Wolverines on Thursday, putting a 15-point loss three weeks ago in the rearview, and holding their opponent to just 31 percent shooting in a 61-50 win. Ohio State fought through cold first half shooting and sloppy ball handling that led to an 11-0 run by Michigan to close the first twenty minutes, and a deficit of 26-21. All eleven points in the run resulted from turnovers.
"I thought overall in the first half we played pretty well," Head Coach Kevin McGuff said. "Offensively, we had a lot of good shots, but we just didn't make them. Then in the last five minutes, we really got sloppy. We quit moving. We threw some soft passes, and the half got away from us.
The comeback was keyed by junior guard Raven Ferguson, who came off the bench to score 16 points, grab 7 rebounds, and dish out 4 assists. Three other Buckeyes scored in double figures, with junior guard Maleeka Kynard scoring 12, senior center Ashley Adams 11, and sophomore guard Ameryst Alston 11.
"We moved more," McGuff said of the second half. "We cut more, and we had better passing and spacing."
When the Buckeyes returned home to Value City Arena on Sunday to play Michigan State, it seemed the team was carrying over their hot finish against the Wolverines. Ohio State connected on seven of their first eleven shots of the game, and got out to 20-13 lead with just under ten minutes to play.
"I thought we started out really well and we were really aggressive," McGuff said.
That aggression quickly dissipated when the Spartans inserted 6'8" junior Madison Williams, who blocked six first half shots and keyed a five minute span in which the Buckeyes failed to score at all. Michigan State finished the half on a 24-12 run that effectively sealed the game. The lead was never closer than five points in the second half, and the Spartans won, 82-68.
"Madison Williams came into the game and she certainly did a great job around the basket," McGuff said. "What was disappointing was we stopped moving around the perimeter, too. As much as there were actual blocks, we didn't handle it well mentally. It took away our aggressiveness. We quit generating the same aggressive plays, and that's on us."
Williams, who has had three major knee surgeries in her time at Michigan State and was playing in just her fourteenth career game, finished with 4 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 blocks. The Buckeyes were again paced by Ferguson, who scored 20 points off the bench. Alston added 16 and sophomore guard Cait Craft, who was celebrating her birthday, chipped in 12. Ohio State's hot shooting start in the game went south, as the team finished just under 37 percent from the floor.
The Lady Buckeyes continue Big Ten play this week, hosting Illinois on Thursday before traveling to Madison on Sunday to lock up with Wisconsin.
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