The Ohio State Buckeyes women’s basketball team felt the highs and lows of competition on Tuesday. In a game where the Scarlet & Gray were down six with 1:12 left in overtime, Ohio State came back when nobody but themselves thought it possible. It’s also a game that might spell the end of seeing guard Madison Greene on the court for a while.
When the ride car came to a stop at the end of Tuesday’s roller coaster of a game, the Buckeyes were victorious, setting up a much anticipated game against the Oregon Ducks.
In the fourth quarter, with 3:24 left to play and the Buckeyes coming off a 12-point run, Greene went to the ground, clutching her knee on the court. The emotions of Greene stretched to her teammates on the court and the bench, visibly upset at the redshirt junior’s apparent injury.
Greene is a player who worked hard to recover from knee surgery before the start of last season, down in what looks like another knee injury — although it’s too early to know the extent.
Also without guard Jacy Sheldon, who’s also currently out with a lower leg injury, Ohio State goes up against a marquee Pac-12 side going further into their bench. It’s a game that many on the team are looking forward to and wanted, especially guard Taylor Mikesell.
Mikesell played a season with the Ducks where her minutes were cut, productivity dipped, and caused her to leave after one year. After Tuesday’s game, forward Cotie McMahon reiterated the desire to play the Ducks, for Mikesell. Be careful what you wish for though when it comes to Oregon.
No. 16 Oregon is a tough opponent, as their ranking and recent form suggests. On Tuesday, they faced the No. 17 Arkansas Razorbacks to a back-and-forth 85-78 victory in the first game of the San Diego Invitational.
Leading the way for the Ducks was Toledo, Ohio forward Grace VanSlooten. The freshman who has very non-freshman numbers scored 26 against the SEC side, adding to her 16.6 points per game. VanSlooten also averages 6.6 rebounds per game. Overall, she’s an upperclassmen with full eligibility.
Another name who will give the Buckeyes a similar challenge to Tuesday’s game against the Bulls is 6-foot-8 center Phillipina Kyei. The big grabbed 14 rebounds against Arkansas. That was bested by USF’s Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu who grabbed 17 boards and 34 points. It was a game that the Buckeyes’ defense in the paint would like to forget, but could repeat on Wednesday.
Then there’s guard Te-Hina Paopao. The facilitator of the Ducks offense is dangerous not only for her ability to score and dish, averaging 12.5 points and 4.0 assists per game, but the lack of mistakes. Paopao leads the NCAA in assist to turnover ratio, earning 5.71 assists for every turnover.
Half of the Ducks 10 games this season feature Paopao not giving up a single turnover, meaning it’ll be hard for the Buckeyes full court press to break her down and cause mistakes like they have to so many others.
The big question for Ohio State themselves is who will be the one taking that role for the Buckeyes with Sheldon and Greene likely out?
Redshirt junior Rikki Harris is the likely choice. Harris is not stranger to starting For Ohio State. Last year, she started 11 games in the stretch run of the season, helping lead the Scarlet & Gray to a regular season co-championship and Sweet Sixteen run in the NCAA Tournament.
On Tuesday, Harris fouled out but not before scoring seven points and grabbing five rebounds, four on the offensive boards. Harris might not score in bunches like Sheldon or assist like Greene, but the guard’s tenacity and energy on the court can’t be beat. The Indiana native also made a big block in the fourth quarter, swatting away a layup by USF’s Caitlin Mcgee. To beat Oregon, Harris will need to bring that same energy,
- If Harris starts, it’ll be the third to do so as point guard for the Buckeyes this season.
- Cotie McMahon hit a new career high again with 30 points against USF.
- Like McMahon, Taylor Thierry also broke her career high, scoring 23 points Tuesday on top of six rebounds (three on the offensive boards).
- Oregon’s +29.80 is third highest in the Pac-12, behind just No. 12 Utah and No. 2 Stanford.
- Kyei’s 11.2 rebounds per game is tops in the Pac-12.
- The Ducks commit the fewest turnovers in their conference.
Wednesday’s game is hard to call. Greene and Sheldon being out makes this game look like it could be hard to choose the Buckeyes to win, but there is some solace from recent close games.
Ohio State won with insurmountable odds on Tuesday, with ESPN result predictions putting USF at near 100% chance to win in the final minute of overtime. That doesn’t sound great, but considering Mikesell only scored eight points — six in overtime — paints a different picture.
For the Buckeyes to win, their shooters need to hit their shots. That means Mikesell and forward Rebeka Mikulášiková (who scored only two points against USF). Ohio State will need to score closer to their average against Oregon.
The motivation, and even more with losing a teammate to injury, should have the Scarlet & Gray come out firing. If not, a comeback against these Ducks will be a steeper hill to climb than Tuesday.
How to Watch
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Pechanga Arena - San Diego, California
LGHL Prediction: 85-80 Oregon Ducks
Team Dub Chain
After wins, the Buckeye coaches hand out a dub chain to the best performer on the evening. There wasn’t one winner on Tuesday, because the entire team received the honor.
Bench players like Eboni Walker and Hevynne Bristow stepped up when starters fouled out. Ohio State responded to come back and tie the game after Greene’s injury. Mikesell hit the three when the team needed it the most. The youngest two Buckeyes led the team offensively.
If not for everyone playing down the stretch, Ohio State wouldn’t still be an undefeated No. 3 team in the country.