The Ohio State Buckeyes women’s basketball team entered Thanksgiving eve with a 4-0 record and a lot of momentum on their side. A day after the Buckeyes beat McNeese State 99-43, they moved up to No. 4 in the AP Poll. Before Wednesday’s game began though, injuries entered the conversation. Even with a loss to a key starter, the Buckeyes the Wright State Raiders in an in-state matchup 105-52.
On Thursday, Ohio State traveled to Ohio University and came away with an 83-53 win in Athens. Following the game, guard Jacy Sheldon limped a bit on her right leg, but started and played 14 minutes, good for 14 points and five steals. Wednesday, Sheldon was in warm-ups, but wearing a boot.
Joining Sheldon as unavailable was fellow Central Ohio guard Emma Shumate, who’s played strong substitute minutes in her first year as a Buckeye after transferring from West Virginia. who received an elbow to the face during Sunday’s win. Shumate wasn’t on the court or sideline.
Both substitutes are a concern with a tougher stretch of games coming up, but Sheldon’s name off the starting lineup removes a key defender. Wednesday’s game was going to be more of a challenge than McNeese State too, but in Sheldon’s place was point guard Madison Greene, and Ohio State still had shooting guard Taylor Mikesell.
Before Mikesell took over, freshman forward Cotie McMahon got the game started with what everyone expects the Buckeyes to use to springboard their defense — a steal. McMahon grabbed a pass at half-court and scored a layup on the fast break.
From there, Mikesell went off. The guard hit three straight threes, then added a block on the defensive side for good measure. In the first half, Mikesell had 12 points, five rebounds, and two assists.
Overall, Ohio State was a better shooting team than Wright State. All eight players who saw minutes in the first half scored at least two points, with forward Rebeka Mikulášiková scoring a team-high 13 points. The Scarlet and Gray hit 58.3% in shooting and 50% from three, compared to their first four games in which slow starts were becoming the norm.
Part of that offense was guard Hevynne Bristow. Fresh off a seven-point, eight-rebound dub chain performance against McNeese, Bristow was a challenge for Wright State. The guard scored eight points in the first half, earning more minutes with Sheldon’s absence from the team.
Another player obviously benefiting from Sheldon’s injury was Greene. The guard played facilitator early on, with six assists and six points. With 36 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Greene made a play that represented her play well.
Greene threw up a three and didn’t make it, but on the miss, Greene grabbed her own rebound and was fouled under the court. While not as big of a scorer as Sheldon, Greene showed her starting lineup abilities with 17 points, eight assists, and three rebounds.
Defensively, the Raiders honed in on shooting from deep. Against McNeese State, the Buckeyes didn’t close down shooters and let them score most of their points from beyond the arc.
Entering Wednesday, Wright State averaged 26.3 three attempts per game and in the first half already took 17. Ohio State responded, holding them to 4-for-17 on their attempts, and entered halftime up 56-28.
Although up by 28, Ohio State didn’t relent in the second half. Instead, they went off for 29 third-quarter points. It started with a missed three, of all things, but ended with a layup with three different Buckeyes getting their hands on the ball in the possession.
Mikulášiková grabbed the offensive rebound on the shot and found McMahon for the putaway layup. McMahon was big for the Buckeyes the entire quarter. Following two games, and the first half of Wednesday, where McMahon seemed frustrated at shots not falling, she kept up the intensity and didn’t shy away from taking shots. McMahon hit 4-of-6 in the third, in addition to three steals, leading Ohio State in both categories.
No matter what Wright State tried, there was a Buckeye response. It’s hard to tell if it's the No. 4 ranking giving them motivation or a little pre-holiday luck, but whatever Ohio State tried seemed to fall.
Ohio State had a lot to be thankful for on the day, beating the Raiders 105-52.
Entering Wednesday, Ohio State’s low in turnovers was 12, hit twice against the Bobcats and Cowgirls. Against the Raiders, Ohio State’s possessions and passing were even better, only turning the ball over five times.
It was a game that was even more in the Buckeyes’ hands than a less talented McNeese State team, and Ohio State outperformed itself. Continuing this trend, and continuing their stellar defensive play in forcing them out of opponents, Ohio State’s going to be in good shape when they start to play teams like the Michigan Wolverines and Indiana Hoosiers.
One of the many things working for Ohio State Wednesday was the assists game. Buckeyes were finding open teammates throughout the game. Greene led the Scarlet and Gray on the day with eight but up and down the roster players were using an extra pass to find teammates, sometimes spectacularly.
In the third quarter, Mikesell found forward Rebeka Mikulášiková charging into the paint. As soon as the Slovakian big received the pass, she no-looked a pass to Greene in the corner who hit the open three.
The Buckeyes don’t play on Thanksgiving like some of their Big Ten peers. Instead, they’re off until Sunday when North Alabama University comes to Columbus. In six days, Ohio State is in Louisville, Kentucky, taking on the No. 10 Louisville Cardinals.