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Game Notes: No. 4 Ohio State women’s basketball vs. North Alabama

A program first, big play by bigs and an understated player for Ohio State.

Ohio State University athletic department

For the second game in a row, the Ohio State Buckeyes women’s basketball team eclipsed 100 points, this time in a 105-67 victory over the University of North Alabama. It’s a program record to score over 100 in two-straight contests.

While it was also the second game in a row with specifically 105 points scored, it was a game vastly different than its predecessor against the Wright State Raiders.

Here are some things that stood out.

Mikulášiková is Not a Fluke

Last season, forward Rebeka Mikulášiková had a good game here and there, but ultimately played an up and down season. Now six games into the 2022-23 season, Mikulášiková’s consistently performed at a high level, and is causing issues for opponents.

It continued Sunday. Mikulášiková’s 23 points topped all Buckeyes, and tied North Alabama guard Skyler Gill for the game’s top scorer. Those points put Mikulášiková at the top of Ohio State’s scoring, with 17.7 points per game.

Mikulášiková is scoring points inside and outside. Against the Lions, she went 10-for-14 from the floor, and hit 50% of her four attempted threes. Mikulášiková also grabbed a steal, had three assists (including a beautiful no-look to Cotie McMahon in the video below) and the Lions couldn’t find an answer for her.

The Slovakian forward did it all in only 20 minutes, too.

McMahon’s Learning Quickly

Although she’s only a freshman, Dayton, Ohio forward Cotie McMahon’s started all six games for the Buckeyes. After a 10-point NCAA debut, the forward’s struggled to score from the floor, but continued making an impact through her play off the ball and on defense. Sunday, she had another game where the shots fell.

Against Wright State on Wednesday, it was a slow start. Sunday, against North Alabama, the forward scored when the Buckeyes faced their stiffest challenge in the first quarter. McMahon hit her first two three attempts early in the opening minutes of the game. The forward added 14 more before was all said and done, and its not all on the court that’s making it come together.

“She played really really hard, which she usually does,” said head coach Kevin McGuff. “I thought today, mentally, she was a little more locked in.”

Coach McGuff continued to applaud the forward for her ability to make adjustments he gives her in timeouts, and make them quickly. Also, despite her energetic play on the court, McMahon had only one turnover all game on offense.

McMahon is a player full of confidence, and a game like Sunday where shots hit, she becomes even more dangerous.

Rikki Harris’ Quiet Contributions

Although it was a tough night statistically for guard Rikki Harris, the team leader’s defense is disrupting opponents. It’s probably not easy going from a starter in a conference championship run to coming in off the bench, but Harris is McGuff’s first choice to enter a game.

Harris had only three points, but grabbed two steals and had eight rebounds. Off the stat sheet, Harris broke up plays, creating steals for teammates. When the press is going strong, Harris is part of it. The redshirt junior is a player to watch for Ohio State, especially if the injury to guard Jacy Sheldon goes longer than expected.

Injury Updates

At the end of media availability, Land-Grant Holy Land asked McGuff for an update on Sheldon and substitute guard Emma Shumate. Neither Buckeye has played in the past two games, and Sheldon’s absence is especially a tough blow with a stronger schedule of games in upcoming weeks.

McGuff said that the injury is day-to-day for both players. There’s not likely to be another update on Sheldon before Wednesday’s game, and giving the No. 10 Louisville Cardinals insight into who’s going to start for the Buckeyes isn’t something McGuff’s likely to want.

If she doesn't play though, it’s hard to argue with the play of guard Madison Greene.

Madison Greene’s Play is Expected

For the second game in a row, Greene put in the work. Following Wednesday’s 17 points and eight assists, Greene had 15 points and seven assists against the Lions. If not for coming out of the game due to Ohio State’s large lead, the guard looked destined for a double-double performance.

Greene’s play looks so calm and easy. She has the full trust of her teammates, and although she doesn’t bring the same intensity as Sheldon in the Buckeyes press, her all-around game boosts the Buckeyes.

Sunday, Greene only missed one shot, and made some circus-level moves inside the paint to break defenders. Greene also added a couple buzzer beaters to boot.

Skyler Gill is Too Good

A note that likely won’t come back up again in a Buckeyes article is the play of North Alabama forward/guard Skyler Gill.

Entering the game, Gill’s resume was impressive. Sunday, she showed why in-person. Gill had 23 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks. From the start of the game, Gill made her presence known and the Buckeyes had to adjust for solely her play.

“Honestly, props to her,” said McMahon following the game. “She’s a bucket. She’s a go-getter.”

Ohio State adjusted, sending more players in the post to keep Gill from being able to roam around the mid-range shooting area, where she built up for her blocks, which all came in the first half. After the adjustment, the Scarlet & Gray were a more effective team.

Watching Gill in person makes a basketball fan wonder why she’s playing at a mid-major school. The 2021-22 ASUN Freshman and Defender of the Year was the Lions on Sunday.

If Gill stays with North Alabama, she could have a similar career to former ASUN star, Ohio State transfer and now-WNBA player, Kierstan Bell who personified the adage of “a big fish in a small pond.”

It’s Over

Last quick note. The last four Ohio State Buckeyes games were only tough to watch because they felt decided before they began. After demolishing four smaller conference schools with an average margin of victory of 44.2 points, some competition is a welcome sight.

It starts Wednesday in Louisville against the Cardinals. Then, a trip to Rutgers on Sunday to start Big Ten play.

Will these past four games be a moment when the team gelled and prepared them for the season ahead, or will they be a speed bump after a season that started on a high?