The Ohio State Buckeyes entered the 2021-22 regular season with some question marks. They lost two starting forwards to the transfer portal and their starting point guard to a season-ending injury. It’s easy to look at those speedbumps at the beginning of the season and think the road would be bumpy, or maybe even see the vehicle breakdown.
After a 22-5 season record and 14-4 mark in-conference, the Buckeyes have defied the odds and are the 2021-22 B1G Conference Co-Champions, alongside the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Ohio State needed some help from their co-champions to do it. The Michigan Wolverines needed to take down Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes to win the conference outright, but the Hawkeyes shocked the No. 6 Wolverines in a huge 104-80 upset. Because of Ohio State’s victory over Iowa on Jan. 31, the Buckeyes are the No. 1 seed in the upcoming B1G Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Before the 2021-22 season even began, it was a roller coaster for Ohio State. After the end of last season that saw the Buckeyes indelible to play in any postseason basketball due to self-imposed sanctions, the team lost starting forwards Dorka Juhasz and Aaliyah Patty to the transfer portal.
For the negatives in the front court, Ohio State strengthened their back court. Head coach Kevin McGuff added University of Oregon transfer and Massillon, Ohio native, Taylor Mikesell. Just before the season began, Mikesell received full approval from the NCAA for ‘21-22 season eligibility with her new team.
Then, one day before the Buckeyes season was slated to begin, junior point guard Madison Greene suffered a season-ending knee injury. It meant Ohio State would be without their starting point guard, who averaged 13.4 points a game as a sophomore and was a 2021 Honorable Mention All-Big Ten.
Any team needs time to adjust at the beginning of the season, but the Buckeyes had a lot of ground to make-up. Ohio State responded, winning all but one game in its non-conference schedule. The team’s one slip-up came against the Syracuse Orange, where the Scarlet & Gray lost an offensive explosion, 97-91.
From there, the only losses came from top teams in the conference. Ohio State lost both of its games to the Michigan Wolverines, its one game against the Indiana Hoosiers, and split the two-game season series against the Maryland Terrapins.
Offensively, it was the play of a dynamic duo of guards in Jacy Sheldon and Mikesell that have led the way. Mikesell averaged 19.2 points per game, 3.4 rebounds and shot 47.1% from beyond the arc. For much of the season, Mikesell led the nation in three-point shooting percentage.
Sheldon started the season as a shooting guard, but moved into the point guard role after sophomore Kateri Poole sustained an injury on Jan. 9. Since then, the Buckeyes went 11-2 and on the season, Sheldon averaged 19.7 points, 3.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game.
On the other side of the court, senior guard Braxtin Miller brought experience and strong defensive coverage all season. Also, freshman Taylor Thierry grew confidence over the season and averaged one block per game despite playing only 14.4 minutes per game.
In the B1G, the Buckeyes’ defense forced the second-most turnovers, with 509 in one less game played than Maryland, who forced 513. It was a testament to the energetic press that caused opponents issues all season.
Now, with the B1G Tournament looming, the Buckeyes take this season accomplishment and hope to turn it into a deep conference and NCAA Tournament run.