When college athletics conversation in Ohio goes to Ohio State and Ohio University, it elicits memories of an angsty Bobcat on the football field and a dominant Buckeye. Another chapter entered the book Thursday night when the Buckeyes traveled to Athens to face the Bobcats. It was a vastly different result than Nov. 17, 2019, when the Bobcats shocked Buckeyes in Columbus. On this Nov. 17, Ohio State beat Ohio University 86-56.
The Ohio University Convocation Center was loud, with most of the lower bowl filled with a mostly green-clad crowd. Even so, a lot of scarlet too made it a fun game not only on the court but in the crowd. Anytime the Bobcats scored, the arena erupted. When Buckeyes head coach Kevin McGuff argued with officials, it prompted jeers from the home fans and support from a large Ohio State contingency behind the visitor’s bench.
On the court, it was less contentious, but like their first two games of the season, the Buckeyes made it appear much closer with tough early shooting. Ohio State struggled, hitting only 30.4% from the floor. A silver lining in it was starting guard Taylor Thierry.
The sophomore Thierry grabbed three offensive rebounds in the first and another three within the first two minutes of the second. The Bobcats had no answer in the paint early.
Another positive came in the Scarlet and Gray’s defense. Their press forced 11 first-quarter turnovers, and Ohio University could only muster 10 shots, scoring eight total points at the end of the first 10 minutes.
Then, like in the early start to the season, the Bucks’ shooting efficiency grew, and in turn, so did their defensive pressure. Thierry, guard Jacy Sheldon, and Rebeka Mikulášiková put the visiting side in a seven-point run. Soon after, McGuff’s side had an 11-point run to push their lead to the biggest it would be in the first half, at 23 points.
Defensively, substitute guard Emma Shumate again entered the game and made a big block, this time at the three-point line. It was the second such block by Ohio State from deep, making the Bobcats more hesitant to shoot.
Another added dimension to Ohio State’s play off the ball was increased pressing from those not named Sheldon. The guard didn’t need another record-tying steals night, with five of the eight players who played in the first earning two steals a piece, and Thierry grabbing one of her own.
Off one of those steals was a tough moment for guard Rikki Harris. Mikesell leaped to deflect a Bobcat pass up in the air, with Mikesell grabbing it herself. Immediately, Mikesell found a charging Harris on the offensive half of the court. Running up behind the guard was Ohio University guard Caitlyn Kroll.
The Bobcats’ redshirt senior, and only player still on the team from Ohio’s shocking win back in 2019 against Ohio State, came up from behind and took Harris down to the ground, landing hard. After reviewing the play at the scorer’s table, the referees charged Kroll with an intentional foul.
Ohio University’s frustration was linked to a run of 4:13 of game-time without a point, with the Buckeyes scoring 11 in the drought, capped off by two Mikesell free throws off the intentional foul and the guard’s first three of the night.
Fortunately for the Buckeyes, Harris ended up being ok, staying on the floor. The Scarlet & Gray Ohio school extended their lead in the second half, entering the locker room up 43-22.
The second half saw a regression from Ohio State. After a big second quarter where the Buckeyes increased the lead, the third lacked energy from either side. Almost as if both teams knew the ending of the game.
McGuff began rotating players in the second half of the third, looking to give bench depth more time on the court. An unfortunate by-product for the Buckeyes was a drop in shooting, allowing the Bobcats to get within 30 against a top-10 team.
In the fourth, Mikulášiková and Sheldon each returned to the game to play minutes. Halfway through the final quarter, the Buckeyes were scored 10 points to three, hitting only 1-for-7 from the floor.
The fourth-quarter surge by Ohio University was too little too late after entering the fourth down 33. McGuff’s Buckeyes made the short trip home with a 86-56 victory and areas to improve as the young season matures.
So far this season, the Buckeyes required big minutes from their stars. Sheldon and Mikesell each logged two-straight games with at least 30 minutes. Thursday, they both played less than 30, leaving the game in the third quarter.
That gave guards Shumate, Harris, and Madison Greene more time on the court and important rest for starters.
An interesting name not on the court was forward Eboni Walker. McGuff shared Wednesday that he wanted more forward depth, and applauded Walker’s athleticism. The Syracuse transfer received four minutes in the third quarter but went back to the end of the bench for Mikulášiková for the start of the fourth.
A night of tough shooting ultimately wasn’t a problem for the Buckeyes on Thursday. Even so, it’s the third game in a row where the Scarlet & Gray started with missing open looks.
The Ohio University Bobcats weren’t putting the Buckeyes in a press like Boston College and there wasn’t hype like there was against No. 11 Tennessee to cause bad takes. Thursday, McGuff’s side missed open shots in a 30-point victory that could’ve been, should’ve been, more.
Defense wins championships, but against teams like the Louisville, Indiana, and more ahead for the Buckeyes will also need consistent shooting. The good thing for Ohio State is there’s still plenty of time to find it.
Following the Buckeye’s lopsided win, Ohio State returns home for a three-game home stretch lasting till the Sunday after Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday. The first of those three is Sunday, Nov. 20 when McNeese State University out of Lake Charles, Louisiana visits the Schottenstein Center for a 1:00 p.m. ET tip.