It doesn’t look like it at first glance, but Thursday’s Ohio State Buckeyes victory over Ohio University was a close game. Well, closer than it needed to be. The Scarlet & Gray went ahead and never looked back in an 86-56 victory over the Bobcats, but they also didn’t look completely dominant either.
This edition of game notes features impressive rebounding, tough shooting, an exciting arena environment, and more.
Madison Greene’s Dub Chain
Following the final buzzer in Athens, substitute guard Madison Greene received her first dub chain since the informal team honor was created last season.
Greene played a season-high 25 minutes and was everywhere on the court. Outside of Greene’s usual point guard role, she was running inside the paint to grab rebounds, force steals, and hit shots consistently on a night where many weren’t.
The first half was especially consistent for the guard who missed all of last season due to a knee injury. Still working back to a potential starting status, Greene shot perfectly in the first half for seven points and hit both of her free throws, which has been a concern early this season.
Taylor Thierry Power
When Ohio State was missing shots, there were many times to grab the offensive rebound was guard/forward Taylor Thierry.
Thierry used her 5-foot-10 height, long wingspan, and jumping ability to control the offensive boards for the Buckeyes. Of her eight rebounds, seven came on offense to keep possession for Ohio State, and the first six came within the first 14 game minutes.
Like guard Jacy Sheldon’s steals against then No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers, the offensive rebounds were a point of focus for the Scarlet & Gray when it seemed like nothing was going into the basket.
Although Thierry’s seven points were three below her 10.0 points per game average entering Thursday, Thierry’s +/- of 22 was second on the team. If confidence and scoring continue to grow in the sophomore, she’s on the precipice of becoming a double-double machine for the Buckeyes.
The focal point defensively, so far this season, is Sheldon’s work on the press. Thursday, it was an evener performance across the press. All five starters had multiple steals, with four grabbing three and forward Rebeka Mikulasikova with two.
Even though Sheldon only grabbed three, which is still a good night relatively speaking, it wasn’t her nine or 11 steal performances from her previous two starts. Still, the Buckeyes didn’t need Sheldon to grab that many. Ohio State only had two fewer steals (18) against Ohio University than they did against Boston College (20).
Head coach Kevin McGuff has a veteran team, but at the same time, he’s still incorporating new talent. In that new group is forward Eboni Walker. The Syracuse transfer started the year earning early minutes against Tennessee but since hasn’t seen much of the court until the game’s been out of hand.
Thursday was the same, with Walker not entering until the third quarter, but left in to start the fourth. As did Greene for a brief stint for Sheldon in the fourth. McGuff addressed it after the game.
“We’re trying to get Eboni more minutes, but not maybe long stretches,” said McGuff. “Short bursts. Give Becks (Rebeka Mikulášiková) some rest. It was really not about getting them back in but getting certain people out to get rest and get back in.”
Free Throw Practice
In Ohio State’s first game of the season, they shot 58.06% from the free throw line. Against Boston College, it increased to 75% but the Buckeyes only shot 16 from the charity stripe. Thursday’s increased slightly to 76.9%, and Sheldon was asked if they worked on them during practice this week.
“Oh, you have no idea,” stressed Sheldon.
That’s because McGuff’s made free throw shooters run extra in practice on misses. Usually strong free-throw shooters struggled until Thursday. Sheldon and fellow guard Taylor Mikesell each went 100% from the line for the first time as a duo this season. In much shorter minutes, Walker hit all four.
If the team percentage continues to improve, think of all the steps logged to get there.
A block is one of the most engaging moments of a game. Well-timed swats cause big reactions from fans and help shift momentum. Thursday, Ohio State showed their class not only inside the paint but outside the arc.
Mikulášiková and substitute guard Emma Shumate each made blocks from Ohio shots from deep. It rattled the Bobcats, who began to think twice before shooting from deep with a Buckeye in their area.
Kaia Henderson Debuts
Freshman guard out of Upstate New York, Kaia Henderson, hasn’t seen any minutes in her first two NCAA games, but that changed Thursday.
In the final minute of the fourth quarter, McGuff brought in Henderson and fellow younger players Mya Perry and Kaitlyn Costner. Of the three, Henderson stood out.
Henderson grabbed a steal, ran down the court, and charged the rim. The 5-foot-6 guard had pressure from the Bobcats' defense but hit the layup while earning a trip to the free-throw line. Henderson ended the Buckeyes' scoring evening with her made free throw in front of the Ohio State bench who roared with approval at Henderson’s moves.
“Oh my gosh, it was awesome,” said Sheldon. “It was a great play by her too, but she works hard every day, like us. We get to play against her every day and she’s a really tough defender. Getting that steal and then that finish was incredible.”
Home Court Advantage
In terms of the fan split for the game with only a one hour and 20 minutes distance separating the Ohio sides, it was unofficially around 65% Bobcats fans to Buckeyes ratio. The scarlet in the crowd didn’t intimidate any of the rowdy Ohio University fans.
Each shot made by the Bobcats turned into an ear-rattling roar. Early in the game, when coach McGuff argued with the refs, the crowd responded by chanting “Kevin! Kevin!” When McGuff made signal gestures to his team in the second half, the Ohio University band all made their own hand gestures mimicking the coach.
Talking more about that band, even when the game was out of hand they didn’t stop bringing the energy. The student section and music makers opposite the Buckeyes bench made their presence known for 40 minutes.
This video was taken in the fourth quarter, as the Buckeyes pushed a 30-point lead.
Can this be at every NCAA WBB game, plz? pic.twitter.com/lwQeusD360— Thomas Costello (@1ThomasCostello) November 18, 2022
It was an atmosphere that could make any Ohio State women’s basketball fan jealous.