After a solid victory on Senior Night against Northwestern a week ago, the Ohio State women's basketball team finished out the conference regular season with two road losses that typified their season. Miscues at crucial times down the stretch resulted in a loss at No. 25 Iowa, and ice cold shooting was too much to overcome at Minnesota.
In a wild game that saw 17 lead changes in Iowa City, and an injury to the Buckeyes' leading scorer, three plays in the final three minutes sealed a 65-61 Hawkeyes victory. A missed front end of a one-and-one by sophomore guard Cait Craft, a turnover by junior forward Raven Ferguson that led to fast break layup, and an Iowa offensive rebound that led to another bucket prevented Ohio State to finishing the job. Adding insult to injury, sophomore point guard Ameryst Alston, who leads the Buckeyes and ranks fourth in the Big Ten in scoring at 18.2 points per game, left the game with an apparent shoulder injury after falling hard on a drive to the hoop.
Alston paced the Buckeyes despite her early exit with 18 points. Senior center Ashley Adams had 12, Ferguson 11, and Craft 10 to round out the double-figure scoring. 21 turnovers were simply too much for Ohio State to overcome.
"Could've, should've, and didn't," Head Coach Kevin McGuff said. "It is disappointing and it is frustrating. We had chances. We just didn't capitalize. We had turnovers, missed free throws, and missed block outs."
After falling just short against the Hawkeyes, Ohio State did not have much time to regroup, traveling to Minneapolis on Sunday to face the Gophers. The game was essentially over by halftime, as frigid shooting and turnovers by the Buckeyes allowed Minnesota to get out to an 14-point lead after the first twenty minutes. McGuff's squad shot just 7-26 (26.9 percent) from the floor and coughed up the ball ten times, leading to 18 Gopher points, en route to a 35-21 deficit. The Buckeyes cut the lead to as little as ten with six minutes remaining in the game, but the early hole was too much to overcome.
"I think overall our issue was we just didn't get enough of the 50-50 balls or the tough rebounds," McGuff said. "Minnesota played a little bit harder than we did, and that was disappointing."
Ferguson led the team with 16 points off the bench, including 3-4 from beyond the arc. Senior forward Martina Ellerbe added 13 and Alston, who did not start due to lingering soreness from her fall against Iowa, had 11 to go along with 9 assists. The Gophers' Rachel Banham, a junior guard, scored 27 to lead all scorers, locking up the conference scoring crown.
The loss dropped Ohio State to 15-17 on the season, just a win short of .500, and 5-11 in conference play. That was good for an 8th seed in the Big Ten tournament, and a matchup with Northwestern, whom the Buckeyes defeated 71-62 in their only meeting this season, this Thursday at noon. The winner of the game will get the privilege of hooking up with top-seeded Penn State on Friday.