Sunday night, the Ohio State Buckeyes women’s basketball team played in their first of two road games for the new week. Facing a Boston College Eagles team that has no seniors, and started three underclassmen, Ohio State cruised to a comfortable 82-64 win, but it wasn’t always easy. Here are items to take away in the latest game notes.
Sheldon’s Career Night
For the second straight night, guard Jacy Sheldon showed what she’s all about. Sheldon followed up her eight-steal night against the No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers with eight steals in the first half against the Eagles.
The senior guard played against a young freshmen duo in the backcourt, and anticipated passes, disrupted dribbling, and looked strong on inbound passes. In the second quarter, Sheldon stopped two inbound passes in a row, with one causing the guard to dive out of bounds as she saved the ball for an eventual two points for Ohio State.
Sheldon was tired in the fourth quarter and began to give turnovers back to the Eagles, but the damage was already done. Sheldon tied the Scarlet and Gray single-game record with 11 steals, held by Lisa Cline from Dec. 30, 1988.
Ohio State’s single-season record is 115, held by Yvette Angel in the 1984-85 season. If Sheldon’s old-school defensive pressure continues, this record could be something to watch as the season continues.
Currently, Sheldon averages 9.5 steals per game, which isn’t likely to continue game-in and game-out. If it somehow does, the Dublin, Ohio guard is on pace for 275.5 steals in the regular season. Otherworldly. Right now though, Sheldon leads the NCAA with those 19 across two games.
Forward Rebeka Mikulášiková hit a new career high in points with 23 against Boston College. Those points tell the tale of a senior who might be coming into her potential. Out of Mikulášiková’s 23 points, the forward had 12 inside the lane against 6-foot-6 21/22 All-Freshman Team center Maria Gakdeng.
Mikulášiková made moves inside the paint, off rebounds, and with key passes to help the Scarlet and Gray run up the score.
Not only did Mikulášiková outscore Gakdeng, but played strong defensively, holding her to only five total rebounds, compared to Mikulášiková’s 10.
Mikulášiková’s shooting from three also improved from Tuesday’s tough 2-for-8 shooting from deep. The Slovakian hit 3-for-4 from three and was again at the start of Ohio State pulling away from their competition. Mikulášiková scored 12 of the Buckeyes' 22 third-quarter points and led everyone on the court with those 23 overall points.
After what looked like a starting five to contest the Tennessee Volunteers' size and athleticism, head coach Kevin McGuff used the same group to go against a younger, less dangerous, Boston College team.
Taylor Thierry and Cotie McMahon played as forward/guard hybrids. While McMahon only scored three points, compared to her NCAA freshman debut of 10 against the Vols, the forward showed moments of flash.
For Thierry, the sophomore played a well-rounded game. Thierry matched Tuesday’s career high with 10 points on Sunday, but didn’t foul out and added five rebounds and three steals. Boston College did what a lot of teams do and out-rebounded the Buckeyes, but when the game calmed down for Ohio State it was usually when Thierry was grabbing rebounds in the paint.
Thierry led the team with three offensive rebounds, showing confidence in the paint.
Greene’s Role Increases
Returning guard Madison Greene upped her minutes with 28 against the Eagles, Sunday. In those minutes, there was a small rough patch for the guard, giving up a bad pass to Boston in the second quarter and a string of misses, but rebounded from it to have a solid performance.
Greene scored eight points and added plays in all different departments. The substitute guard added four rebounds (two on offense), nine assists, and two steals.
Rikki Harris Moments
Like Greene, guard Rikki Harris’ minutes increased against Boston College. While known for her defensive play off the bench last year, Harris made moves on offense Sunday night, using her court awareness as a weapon.
The Eagles couldn’t get a read on Harris who was moving throughout the front court. On two occasions, Harris made a cutting move, once outside and once inside, to score a quick five points in the Buckeyes' 21-3 run in the second quarter.
Although Harris’ minutes are now being split between herself, Greene, and Emma Shumate, she’s making the most of the time she’s on the court.
Entering this season, Newark, Ohio guard Shumate looked like another offensive threat for a McGuff team who likes to shoot from deep. Instead, Shumate showed Sunday night that defense is also a worthwhile note of her game.
Against Boston College, Shumate only scored two points, and missed the lone three she attempted, the tall and athletic guard came into the game and forced a quick miss and then a block under the basket. Across her 11 minutes, Shumate also did her best Sheldon impression, grabbing two steals.
Shumate hasn’t looked like a piece of the Buckeyes' scoring offense yet, but it's still early in her first season playing on the college level.
Guard Taylor Mikesell had another Mikesell-esque performance, hitting threes and showing her lethal scoring ability. The quiet part of the note doesn’t mean she didn’t make an impact. Mikesell was the second-leading scorer on the floor with 16.
The quiet is good because last season the Buckeyes needed not only good performances by Mikesell but oftentimes great ones. Sunday was a good night for Mikesell, but others on the team stepped up and earned Ohio State the win.
Ohio State’s experience is its edge over opponents. The more the team chemistry grows, with new names incorporated into it, the more space it’s going to earn Mikesell.
The Buckeyes might not need Sheldon and Mikesell to be their best player every night anymore.
Struggles Against the Press
McGuff’s press is dangerous. Ohio State sets up their press especially well when they make shots, but Boston College gave the Scarlet & Gray the chance to play against one Sunday.
In the first quarter, the Buckeyes had 10 of their 21 turnovers. It took a few minutes into the second quarter for Ohio State to adjust, but they did, and then some. It was a tough first 10 minutes of the game, but the consistency of Sheldon and the Buckeyes to keep their course was evident.
Eyes on Louisville
The Buckeyes have arguably their biggest test of the non-conference, maybe entire conference, schedule coming up on Nov. 30. That’s when Ohio State travels south to the University of Louisville for their ACC/B1G Challenge game against the Cardinals.
Before they get there, they have games against four teams McGuff’s side should be able to handle. It begins Thursday against the Ohio University Bobcats.
McGuff isn’t one to look that far ahead though. Expect a motivated Buckeyes team to continue their run going into the next four smaller conference matchups.