Playing against a tougher team than Sunday’s game against McNeese State, where the Buckeyes put up 99 points, Ohio State showed their capability. Even without a key player on offense, the Scarlet & Gray enter the holiday in good spirits, with a couple injury exceptions.
Here are notes from Wednesday’s Thanksgiving appetizer.
Missing the Party
Unfortunately for Ohio State, Wednesday’s holiday win featured two “no” RSVPs, due to injuries. Jacy Sheldon and Emma Shumate each missed the game, with Sheldon still attending the contest, sitting with the team but donning a plastic boot on her right foot.
After the game, head coach Kevin McGuff shared that neither injury is serious, with Sheldon suffering a lower leg injury and no specific word on Shumate’s ailment.
Sheldon’s 6.7 steals per game were missed by Ohio State. The team still forced 23 turnovers, although that’s down from their average of 34 per game entering Wednesday.
Missing the game for Sheldon also snaps her 80-game streak of starts, dating back to her freshman season in 2019-20.
Ohio State was scoring up and down the roster Wednesday, with everyone but the two injured Buckeyes seeing time on the court. Coming up with double-digits scoring were all five starters and substitute Hevynne Bristow.
Most impressive was a trio of starters who shot 20-for-23 in guards Madison Greene and Taylor Thierry, alongside forward Rebeka Mikulášiková. Thierry, who’s a popular house guest this year with everyone wanting more of the guard, broke another personal record in her fifth straight start.
This time it was shooting from the field, making all seven attempted shots, part of the Buckeyes 52 points in the paint (which matched all of Wright State’s points all-together).
Mikulášiková was also a piece of that 52, scoring 10 of her 18 points inside the paint with strong presence in the paint.
Greene Bean Casserole
While Greene hasn’t started this season until Sheldon went down with injury, the side dish became the focal point.
Greene had another great performance, scoring 17 points and two assists shy of the double-double with eight dishes. The resiliency in an afternoon game made it even more special, with Greene reaching 32 minutes, something she’s worked on since missing all of last season. That increase in conditioning means Ohio State can have her on the court more often, something her teammates want.
“Madison’s always amazing,” said Thierry following the game. “She brings in so much energy and is so consistent offensively and defensively. We know she can do whatever the team needs her to do and she really stepped up big time today.”
Sheldon and Greene bring different things to the team as starting point guards, but each are dangerous in their own respects.
Stuffing Past Results
Forward Cotie McMahon’s last three games haven’t gone the way that she’s hoped, at least on the stat sheet. McMahon still creates problems for opposing offenses and forces steals, even if her teammates get credit for some.
Wednesday, McMahon forgot those past results and kept her confidence high on the way to 16 points. Even after a tough half where the Dayton, Ohio freshman shot just 1-for-5 from the floor, she came out in the second half and showed the fans in the arena and streaming from home that the future is bright for McMahon and the Buckeyes.
McMahon’s second half showed a different person. Early in the third quarter, McMahon grabbed two steals in 15 seconds, Soon after those steals, she hit her first three of her NCAA career, after missing her first two spread across Ohio State’s last two victories.
The freshman showed she can score with strength in the paint or finesse. When McMahon’s shot is falling, there’s nobody better than her on the court.
Also, during the Buckeye’s largest run of the game (12-points), McMahon scored five of the 12, pushing Ohio State’s lead out to 42 points. Not bad considering Wright State had 38 overall at the time.
Back to those two first half points, even though they weren’t a lot, they were still pretty good.
On a Roll
Over the past few games, the Buckeyes haven’t needed guard Taylor Mikesell to take over a game like she did last season. Aside from her 15-point third quarter against Tennessee, Mikesell’s been a steady role-player but not the pivot point of all things offense.
Mikesell started a game in scarlet and gray for the first time without Sheldon on Wednesday and got off to a hot start. It seemed to calm the team down, and get them into an early groove that they held throughout the game.
The Massillon, Ohio guard hit her first four three-pointers before going a little cold and not making another all game. She also stuffed a ball under the basket for a block early in the contest. Mikesell’s 16 points didn’t lead the team, but it was the start of a sound night overall.
The Buckeyes broke two records that showed improved decision making, and not rushing their ball movement. Ohio State had a season low in turnovers with six (cutting their previous record of 12 in half) and had 26 assists on offense.
An impressive assist of the 26 is courtesy of Mikulášiková, who had a no-look pass to Greene early in the third quarter.
Even though Wright State is a team with higher quality players than McNeese State, the enhanced play of the Buckeyes yielded a stronger overall performance.
An area that didn’t make coach McGuff too happy was the press. Without Sheldon, who covers a lot of the court on defense and brings high intensity to the press, it wasn’t as effective as past games.
I told them at halftime,” said McGuff. “‘They had seven turnovers in the first half and then in the first five minutes of the third quarter they had eight,’ Just to sum up how hard we played coming out of halftime, but we didn’t play as hard as we should in the first half.”
If Sheldon’s injury, which doesn’t have a firm timetable, leaves her out of the Nov. 30 game against No. 10 Louisville, Ohio State doesn’t have much time to find someone else to pick up that same infectious intensity that Sheldon brings.
Frying the Bird
Although it’ll be after Thanksgiving, the bird(s) the Buckeyes are likely looking forward to cooking are the Louisville Cardinals.
Louisville’s slipped up in the past few weeks, moving down to No. 10 in the AP Poll, but Tuesday, Nov. 30 is still going to bring a lot of hype — for good reason. The Cardinals are going to show the identity of the 22-23 Buckeyes. Can they play another full 40 minutes like they did to open the year against Tennessee? Could going down to a program with notoriety away from home elicit the same response they had against the Vols? Can they potentially win without Sheldon?
We will find out soon enough.