It was a back and forth contest at Value City Arena, but in the end, the Ohio State Buckeyes fell to the Morehead State Eagles, 71-61, in first round action of the Women’s NIT. It’s a tough loss for the Buckeyes, as their season will now come to an end.
Aliyah Jeune led the Eagles in both scoring and rebounding. Her 20-point effort (with a 6-of-11 mark from three-point range) and nine rebounds were a big reason for the second half rally against the Buckeyes. Darianne Seward had the second-most points for the visitors, pouring in 17 points. She led the Eagles in the assist category with five.
While they were 2-of-11 from downtown in the first half, Morehead State turned it on late in the game. Across the third and fourth quarters, the Eagles were 7-of-14 from beyond the arc. Ohio State struggled to find their shot from distance, and ended the game 5-of-18 from deep.
Dorka Juhasz led the Buckeyes with 15 points and 10 rebounds. She also made a team-leading six field goals before exiting the game late in the fourth quarter with an injury.
Janai Crooms had the second-most points for the Bucks, scoring 13. However, she committed a team-leading eight turnovers for the game. As a squad, OSU had 17 turnovers across all four quarters.
In addition to the turnovers, the Buckeyes were getting outmuscled on the boards. Morehead State outrebounded the scarlet and gray 14-7 on the offensive side, and 30-27 on the defensive side. Those second-chance points mattered, as MSU led that category 15-6.
Let’s see how this one went down.
Ohio State got the first shot of the game, however, they didn’t get the first points. Following a Dorka Juhasz miss and turnover on the next possession, Morehead State got on the board first with a layup by Mckenzie Calvert.
Juhasz would get the redeemer right after the Eagles scored. Carly Santoro missed a jumper, but thanks to a Juhasz offensive rebound, she got the second-effort points to knot things up at 2-2.
Almost a minute later, Aliayah Patty scored the next OSU points — giving the home team the very early 4-2 lead with 7:43 left in the quarter. Not liking the deficit, the Eagles soared with an 8-0 run, taking us to the first media timeout with a 10-4 lead.
The break in action threw the brakes on the Morehead State run. In fact, it jumpstarted an OSU run; in the three minutes after the media timeout, the Buckeyes went on an 11-0 spirt. Ohio State made 4-of-5 shots from the field, while the wheels fell off of the wagon for the visitors.
The Eagles went over four minutes without a point and went 1-of-8 from the field. Turnovers by the Ohio Valley Conference squad also led to the Bucks charging out in front with a lead. Three turnovers during the run fueled a 13-1 stretch to end the first frame, giving OSU a 17-11 lead heading into the second quarter. Also, a 5-of-19 (26 percent) shot chart wasn’t doing the Eagles any favors, either.
Santoro led the team through the first 10 minutes with six points, while Juhasz led the Bucks with four rebounds.
Beginning the second quarter, OSU head coach Kevin McGuff made some substitutes and dug deep into the bench. Right off the bat, the new lineup didn’t falter OSU’s momentum, as Carmen Grande knocked down a jumper to push the Bucks’ lead to eight.
But missed three-pointers by Ohio State led to quick points on the other end. Misses by Juhasz and Santoro were converted into five points for Morehead. An Adreana Miller missed jumper led to bucket by Tierra Mcgowan, which flipped the script completely—giving the visitors the lead, 20-19. After some back-and-forth trading of the lead, Aliyah Jeune’s three-pointer would give MSU a 23-21 advantage at the media timeout with 4:29 remaining before halftime. In the quarter, the Eagles flew back into the lead because of a 12-2 run.
Once again, the media break caused havoc to Morehead State. A three-ball from Janai Crooms, jumper from Miller, and layup from Juhasz were all part of a 10-2 OSU run to end the quarter. If it weren’t for a layup from Miranda Crockett with 23 second left, the Eagles would’ve been rendered scoreless the final 4:29.
In a game defined by runs, Ohio State had the lead halfway through, 31-25. Santoro didn’t score in the second frame, meaning Juhasz led in both rebounds and points with eight.
Ohio State shot 41 percent from the field, and 3-of-8 from three; Morehead State, on the other hand, was shooting at a 32 percent clip overall, and 2-of-11 from three range. Keeping care of the ball wasn’t a strongpoint for either side, as each team committed nine turnovers. Of those nine TOs, MSU had three of them be steals; OSU had two.
The third quarter, unlike the other two, didn’t feature an MSU run in the beginning. Instead, the Buckeyes held close to their lead—and even pushed it into double-digits. Scores by Juhasz and Janai Crooms began the quarter, and after a layup from Mcgowan, Miller’s three gave OSU a 38-27 lead with 7:25 left on the clock. The 11-point lead would be chipped away, getting down to four at the media timeout with 4:41 remaining. The cold slump was due in to four OSU turnovers and a near three-minute stretch of zero made field goals.
Crooms had a tough stretch going into and right after the media timeout. She had five turnovers, and was subbed out— Santoro replacing her. Turnovers weren’t the only problem OSU faced in the back half of the third period. MSU fired at will, and had shots connect. Whether layups or mid-range, or from downtown, the Eagles used all of it to pull an 8-0 together.
At the conclusion of the third, it was the Eagles up 48-45.
Quarter four began with Grande making a layup, and cutting the deficit to a point. However, three-pointers from Jeune and Calvert bloated the deficit to seven. After a pair of Crooms free throws, the Bucks got within five. But, once again, the Eagles fell in love, and made, another three. This time, it was Crystal Simmons-Cozar. This three was the first make for Simmons-Cozar on the night, and the Eagle’s eighth of the game. The whole dynamic of the game changed during the fourth quarter, as at the media break, MSU led 59-49.
Things went from bad to worse for OSU, as Juhasz went down with an injury with 4:08 left in regulation. Juhasz had a double-double in the game, scoring 15 and rebounding 10.
With Juhasz out, the Buckeyes chipped away at MSU’s lead, and got it down to five after a pair of Grande free throws. However, Jeune knocked down another three, sealing the game with just a touch over two minutes left.
Ohio State ends the season at 14-15, losing the last two games after having at least a double-digit lead.