The Ohio State women’s basketball team won their first three games, all by double-digits. Each win’s been slightly less exciting than the last, after starting the season against then-No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers. Sunday, the trend continues as the Buckeyes play their first of three-straight games at the Schottenstein Center.
There’s still a lot to take from the game, as it provides the perfect opportunity for the Buckeyes to correct areas before their Nov. 30 trip to the sixth-ranked Louisville Cardinals.
Entering the Schott Sunday are the McNeese State Cowgirls, out of Lake Charles, Louisiana. Located around 200 miles west of New Orleans, McNeese State competes in the Southland Conference alongside smaller universities and two Texas A&M satellite campuses.
The McNeese State Cowgirls have two conference titles in their program history and made the NCAA Tournament twice (2011 and 2012). Their national claim to fame was a narrow defeat to then No. 8 Kentucky Wildcats in the 2012 NCAA Tournament 62-68, who eventually made it to the Elite Eight.
More recently, the Cowgirls have struggled against Power Five teams. Their last five games against top conference teams ended badly for McNeese, losing by an average of 63 points. In each, they allowed at least 100 points, starting with a 117-24 drubbing at the hands of now Ohio State guard Taylor Mikesell and the Oregon Ducks and ending Nov. 16, 2022, when fellow Big Ten school Illinois beat them 100-38.
In other words, expectations are high for a landslide victory for head coach Kevin McGuff’s side.
There are three areas to keep an eye out for McGuff and Ohio State. The first is shooting.
Nitpicking the Buckeyes shooting this season might feel like the equivalent of a loose string on a nice sweater. After all, the Scarlet and Gray’s scoring margin is +20 in their victories, but sooner rather than later someone will come along and pull the string.
Ohio State’s shooting 44.8%, which isn’t a horrible level, but each game it's gone down. A second half with fluid scoring from the Buckeyes put the reigning Big Ten co-champions at 50.8% against the Vols but Thursday’s 38% showed a side trending in the wrong direction.
A positive is in the space created to shoot. Guard Jacy Sheldon was asked if it was the Ohio University defense doing something to make it difficult to shoot.
“No, no, we just had a bad shooting day,” said Sheldon, laughing.
Although directly after Sheldon gave credit to the Bobcats for some of their defensive looks, it was a night with many open shooting looks.
Sunday’s game against McNeese should give Ohio State plenty of time to knock off the rust and find a good shooting flow, at home.
The next area of focus is limiting turnovers. Ohio State responded to Sunday’s decision-making issues, giving up 23 turnovers to Boston College, with a 13-turnover night against Ohio University. Chemistry is a part of that.
As this Scarlet & Gray team, complete with two younger players starting, gets more minutes under their belts they’ll get on the same page with passing and knowing teammate movements.
Lastly, increasing minutes for transfers and players returning from injury. Most notably forward Eboni Walker and guard Madison Greene. Both are part of McGuff’s plan this season, with the coach wanting the help, especially in the paint. Walker and Greene each suffered season-ending injuries last year, and Walker has the added hurdle of transferring to Ohio State this offseason.
More solid minutes, like Greene’s 10-points in 25 minutes night against Ohio University, and the Buckeyes gain more depth. If shots fall more consistently Sunday, the more minutes Walker and maybe even guards Kaia Henderson and Mya Perry can get in competitive minutes.
- McGuff’s started the same five in the first three games of the season
- Taylor Thierry’s playing strong flexing between guard and forward, in the starting lineup
- Walker averages 5.6 minutes off the bench this season, but McGuff’s hoping to increase that as the season progresses
- Nine of McNeese State’s 15 rostered players are transfers, and six are from Europe
- Stephanie Guihon spent the past two seasons at Rutgers, playing four minutes against the Buckeyes last season
- Paris Mullins, a substitute guard, leads the team in scoring, averaging 13.00 ppg
Not to discount the McNeese State Cowgirls, but Sunday’s game shouldn’t be difficult for the Buckeyes. Ohio State’s proven their talent this season against a top-10 team, Power Five conferences, and showed they can win even when their shots aren’t falling.
Buckeyes will come out strong and avoid another slow start. Look for freshman forward Cotie McMahon, who had a difficult scoring night against the Bobcats, to have a big game. McMahon’s movement on the court is so fluid, covers a lot of space, and isn’t afraid to attack the basket. If the layups start hitting early in the game, expect it to carry throughout.
How to Watch
Date: Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Where: Schottenstein Center - Columbus, Ohio
LGHL Prediction: 104 - 33 Ohio State Buckeyes
For the Children
Following Sunday’s game, the Ohio State program is holding a free youth clinic for girls in grades third through eighth and boys in grades third through sixth. Entry is limited to only 100 participants, who also have a ticket to the event.
There’s no word from the team if the players themselves will take part in running the clinic.
To sign up, visit here to complete a required waiver and learn more about the event.