In the remnant of Ohio State’s nation-stopping rivalry game against the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday, the Ohio State women’s basketball team takes the court. Finally answering the popular, and now outdated, “We want Bama” rallying cry, kind of. The Scarlet & Gray welcome a team from Alabama to the Schottenstein Center – the University of North Alabama.
Who is North Alabama? Will the Buckeyes be at full strength for Wednesday’s trip to Louisville? Can Ohio State score 100 points in two straight games?
It feels like forever ago since the Buckeyes played in a truly meaningful quarter of basketball, roughly 15 straight quarters where Ohio State’s been in the driver’s seat against four different opponents.
Since the first quarter against Boston College on Nov. 13, head coach Kevin McGuff’s side has outscored opponents 355-199. Of the four teams, three came from teams outside of a Power Five conference like the MAC’s Ohio University or Southland Conference’s McNeese State.
Sunday is the final game against another smaller conference opponent before Wednesday’s ACC/B1G Challenge and the start of conference games on Sunday, Dec. 4 against Rutgers University.
Even if the games haven’t been too difficult for the Buckeyes, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been value in the 40-minute affairs. Sunday gives another opportunity for depth players to find their game legs and help Ohio State prepare for a Big Ten season with a target on their backs.
Part of that group is forward Eboni Walker and guard Hevynne Bristow. Walker is part of a forward group that has talent with starters Taylor Thierry, Cotie McMahon, and Rebeka Mikulášiková, but lacks depth beyond the starting five. The Syracuse transfer Walker has played well in the past two games, and will likely receive ample minutes to continue that trajectory.
In Bristow’s case, the senior guard’s normally played behind the Buckeyes' group of four stellar guards in Jacy Sheldon, Taylor Mikesell, Madison Greene, and Rikki Harris. However, before Wednesday’s matinee victory against Wright State, Sheldon and substitute Emma Shumate each missed the game for a lower leg and undisclosed injury respectively.
Bristow’s played more like a forward for the minutes she’s seen the court, grabbing 13 rebounds and 18 points across the past two home games for the Buckeyes. After missing much of last season battling injuries, Bristow looks hungry on the court and is making an argument for getting more minutes as the season progresses. Sunday is another good opportunity.
North Alabama (3-2) comes to Central Ohio to end the long holiday weekend. Part of the ASUN Conference, home of reigning champions Florida Golf Coast University, the Lions has kept a quieter non-conference schedule. Outside of a 77-40 loss against SEC’s Mississippi State, North Alabama’s kept it to smaller schools in the southeast.
Voted by ASUN media to finish sixth in the conference this year, they shouldn’t give the Buckeyes much trouble, with one exception. A standout on the Lions' roster is guard/forward Skyler Gill.
Only a sophomore, Gill’s already racked up honors entering her second season. In Gill’s freshman year, the 5-foot-11 athlete won ASUN Freshman of the Year and Defender of the Year. Gill averaged 9.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game and so far this year, Gill’s playing better. In five starts, Gill increased her shooting average up to 12.4 points per game and kept her rebounding and blocking just under last year’s averages.
The Buckeyes face a challenge in Gill, who gets into good positions to make plays defensively and offensively. Her awareness to grab blocks and rebound will put an Ohio State team who needs improvement on grabbing boards in check.
- Guard Greene could make her second straight
- Mikesell leads the team in scoring this season, averaging 16.8 points per game
- Thierry’s 69.4% field goal percentage leads the team, with the forward consistently making layup attempts and shots inside the paint
- Freshman guard Alyssa Clutter started four games before missing the Lions' last game
- Guard Jade Moore is someone to watch deep, taking 47 attempts across her five games played
- Guard Hina Suzuki is second in the ASUN in assists, averaging 6.3 per game
For the fourth time in a row, and third time in a row at home, the Scarlet & Gray shouldn’t have any trouble coming away with a victory. The only way a slip-up could happen is if eyes are already thinking about Wednesday’s game against the No. 10 Louisville Cardinals.
Expect Greene to have a big game starting at point guard, assuming Sheldon again doesn’t get a start. Even if she is available to play, starting Greene could be the smart move, giving Sheldon more rest before the ACC/B1G Challenge.
Either way you slice it, the Buckeyes should pull out a large margin of victory and keep their place as a top team in the country.
How to Watch
Date: Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Where: Schottenstein Center - Columbus, Ohio
LGHL Prediction: 97-52 Ohio State Buckeyes
ACC/B1G Challenge Looms
As the football season winds down, the basketball season is kicking into another gear following Sunday’s game. There are 14 match-ups between Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, with Ohio State and Louisville starting things on Nov. 30.
Then, Sunday begins the conference schedule with a trip to Rutgers.