Tuesday was as good of a script as you could write for the start of the Ohio State women’s basketball team’s 2021-22 campaign. After being down the entire first half, the Buckeyes put together a 30-point second half and fourth quarter closeout to upset the No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers, and the expectations for Ohio State skyrocket. Their next game following the lopsided win is on the East Coast, against the Boston College Eagles.
Sunday has the making of a letdown game for the Buckeyes if minds are still on the big season debut. Can Ohio State put that win in the rearview mirror and focus on a Boston team that, on paper, aren’t close to the challenge of most Big Ten teams?
Boston College is a side that's going through a slight rebuild. The Eagles return only seven players from last season, losing four of five starters. Included in that group of exits are guard Cameron Swartz and forward Taylor Soule.
Swartz and Soule won spots on the First Team All-ACC and second teams respectively, with Swartz winning ACC Most Improved Player. Both opted to leave BC in the offseason, with Swartz transferring to Georgia Tech and Soule to Virginia Tech. A tough blow to lose their top two scorers to in-conference opponents.
The Eagles aren’t left empty-handed. In the paint is 6-foot-4 sophomore center Maria Gakdeng, the lone returning starter. Last season, Gakdeng averaged 8.9 points and led the team with 6.3 rebounds per game and 73 blocks. Ohio State faces another tough interior player after neutralizing Vols center Tamari Key earlier this week.
Head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee has a young team this season with no seniors on the roster. In the first two games of the new campaign, Bernabei-McNamee started two juniors, a sophomore and two freshmen, but those freshmen — T’Yana Todd and Taina Mair — are already making an impact.
Todd joined BC after representing Canada in the 2022 FIBA U18 Americas Championship. Todd is a shooter. In the U18 finals, against Buckeyes forward Cotie McMahon and Team USA, Todd led Team Canada with 19 points as a substitute. Only McMahon’s 22 points were more than Todd in the 82-77 Team USA victory. The Boston guard shot 50% from three, hitting four shots. So far this season, Todd averages 8.5 points across two games.
Mair is a pure facilitator. After winning the 2021-22 Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Basketball Player of the Year honor, she has 21 assists in two games. In the Eagles lopsided win against Umass Lowell, Mair had 13, and the other eight in BC’s 68-59 loss to Harvard on Thursday.
In that Thursday loss to the Crimson of Harvard, Boston College faced the polar opposite in strategies to what they’ll see against Ohio State. Harvard moved the ball around and drained the shot clock, aka the Wisconsin Badgers special. The youth of Boston was evident.
On the other side of the court, Ohio State has the experience and upperclassmen leadership, but who gets the start? McGuff went with athleticism against Tennessee, using both forwards McMahon and Taylor Thierry, who played more of a guard/forward flex position. Boston is another big team, with their forwards standing over 6-foot-1, meaning McGuff could opt for another side with size on Sunday.
- Madison Greene played 22 minutes, more than McMahon and Thierry. A start could be close
- Rebeka Mikulášiková was one rebound away from a double-double on Tuesday
- Emma Shumate logged 12 minutes against the Vols. Could she get more to cement her role on the team?
- Waggoner leads the Eagles with 16.5 points and 9.0 rebounds
- Boston College has averaged 17.9% from three in two games
- Sophomore forward Ally VanTimmeren is a name to watch off the bench, ranked the 14th best forward in the 2021 ESPN recruiting class
Boston College employs a press of their own, switching between the full and half court varieties. Against Harvard it left them susceptible, playing with three players in the press in the backcourt. Ohio State will still need to watch the ball against a Boston side who’s +1.5 in the turnover margin after two games.
Even so, this game doesn’t seem too difficult for McGuff’s side. The veteran leaders in the Buckeyes guard group will be too much for the Eagles. Also, the Scarlet and Gray’s pace could be a shock to a Boston side who’s played against a UMass Lowell team who was sixth in the America East conference last year as well as Harvard’s slow and methodical play.
If Ohio State plays the way that they've played last season and on Tuesday, it should be a comfortable victory on the road.
How to Watch
Date: Sunday, Nov. 12, 2022
Time: 4:00 p.m. ET
Where: Conte Forum - Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
TV: ACC Network
Stream: ESPN+ (with an ACC Network subscription)
LGHL Prediction: 85-67 Ohio State
Signing Day Duo & Two Big Names Undecided
Thursday was college signing day, and Ohio State added two names, both already connected to the Buckeyes from the recruiting trail. Guard Diana Collins and forward Faith Carson joined the Scarlet & Gray officially.
Collins is a four-star recruit, according to ESPN, out of Snellville, Georgia. She averaged 21.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for Brookwood High School in the 21-22 season. Below are highlights of the scorer for the Brookwood High School Broncos (20).
Carson is a 6-foot-4 center who hails from Buchanan High School in Buchanan, Michigan. Ohio State beat out fellow Big Ten school Michigan State and in-state Xavier University to sign the center.
Both signees each have their senior seasons to finish, with no word yet if they’ll graduate early and join Ohio State in Jan. 2023.
Elsewhere in the recruiting world, Ohio State has two players high on ESPN recruiting rankings who haven’t declared but have the Buckeyes in their final group. Five-star guard Hannah Hidalgo, out of Haddonfield, New Jersey and 6-foot-6 center Quanirah Cherry-Montague, from Atlantic City, New Jersey, didn’t sign on Thursday.
Hidalgo, ranked No. 5, has the Michigan Wolverines, Notre Dame, Duke and Stanford in her final group, while Cherry-Montague has just Ohio State and Mississippi State. Landing either of the two would be a huge recruiting win for McGuff and the Buckeyes.