Regardless of the recent results for the Ohio State women’s basketball team, losing to the Iowa Hawkeyes and Indiana Hoosiers over the past six days, there was a lot to celebrate Sunday. The Purdue Boilermakers were in town and the Scarlet & Gray celebrated not only LGBTQ Pride but also the 92-93 National Championship finalists.
The slide continued on the court for Ohio State. This time, losing to the unranked Boilermakers 73-65.
For the Buckeyes, the Sheldon Watch continued, with guard Jacy Sheldon missing her 15th game in a row with a foot injury. The guard is still off crutches and out of a boot, meaning a return could be imminent, according to head coach Kevin McGuff.
Entering the game, Purdue’s three-point shooting is a highlight of their ability to beat teams and got started early from deep. The Boilermakers hit their threes and hit them often in the first. Purdue went 7-for-9 from beyond the arc, even with the Buckeyes mostly having strong defense with hands in the faces of shooters.
Guards Abbey Ellis and Cassidy Hardin each went 3-for-3, scoring 11 and nine points against the Buckeyes in the first quarter alone.
On the Buckeyes’ offensive side, it was hit or miss, mostly miss. From deep the home team went 1-for-6, with guard Rikki Harris hitting the lone make and usually efficient three-point shooter Taylor Mikesell missing both of her chances.
Mikesell was also the only Buckeye to not score out of the starting lineup, picking up two fouls instead. It was another quarter Ohio State would like to forget this week, but they had time to make it up, although down 14 points at the end of the first 10 minutes.
Purdue started the second quarter with Ellis and Harden on the bench, and the visitors began missing from deep. It was still tough for Ohio State to trim away at the 14-point deficit.
Guard/forward Taylor Thierry was leading the way in the attempt. Thierry had nine of the Buckeyes’ 18 points halfway through the second quarter. The sophomore did it with attacks to the basket and getting to the free-throw line. She was also contributing defensively.
Thierry had 13 points, four rebounds, two blocks, and a steal in the first half. With less help from her teammates though, Ohio State could only trim their 14-point deficit down to 13 at the media timeout of the second quarter, with 3:54 left in the half.
While Purdue’s shooting from three was less effective in the second quarter, only going 2-for-8, when Ohio State thought they could start putting together an answer, Purdue would keep it close. The Buckeyes hit a three, then Purdue hit a three. The Buckeyes go on a four-point run, then Purdue went on a five-point run.
Ohio State trimmed the halftime lead down to 12 but needed up until the final buzzer to do it. It was Thierry making the play too. Mikesell, who had no points on 0-for-6 shooting in the first 20 minutes, took a three before the buzzer and missed. Thierry grabbed the offensive rebound and the second-chance point, going down 29-41 at halftime.
It didn’t get much better for the home team in the second half. Ohio State needed a timeout 1:40 into the third quarter after forward Rebeka Mikulášiková fouled Purdue forward Caitlyn Harper, making it a three-point play. Then, Mikesell threw a pass into the hands of Purdue’s Ellis, extending the visiting team’s lead to 17 points.
The Buckeyes started to show life after the timeout, turning a defensive rebound into a break on offense, finished by none other than Thierry. Then, Ohio State won the ball back again, this time with Mikesell getting her first points of the game on a floating layup just outside of the paint.
That was when Mikesell came alive. The guard followed the layup with two threes from the right wing, cutting Purdue’s lead down to nine. When Mikulášiková tried her hand at a shot from deep, forward Cotie McMahon grabbed the clang off the rim and hit the second-chance layup.
Ohio State began the second half outscoring Purdue 12 to seven with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter. However, the storyline of the day continued. For every stretch where the Buckeyes looked dangerous, they followed it with moments that let the visitors back into the game.
With a minute left in the game, Purdue went back up 11 points, with time becoming less and less an ally to the Buckeyes. The Boilermakers made it even less so, opting to hold possessions even longer to take the ball out of the home team’s hands.
The Buckeyes cut the lead under 10 again with 41 seconds left. That’s when Mikulášiková and Ohio State gave some hope to the good Sunday home crowd. The Slovakian forward hit her first three-point shot of the game, giving Ohio State less of an uphill battle in the fourth quarter, down 52-44.
In the first minute of the final quarter, the two sides traded threes and with under nine minutes left, Ohio State needed someone, anyone, to step up. Instead, it was four. The Buckeyes cut the lead down to two thanks to a nine-point run.
The stretch included a three-a-piece for Mikesell and Harris, a free throw for Thierry, and an impressive physical play by Mikulášiková. After missing a layup in the paint, the forward won the offensive rebound and got through three Boilermakers to get the second chance shot.
Purdue’s two-point lead stretched quickly though, with Hardin hitting a three on the next offensive possession. The Buckeyes had just under seven minutes remaining in the game with five points between them and a third consecutive defeat.
The Buckeyes made it a game again with 4:28 remaining. That’s when the home side went level with the Boilermakers for the first time since the opening minutes of the game.
Ohio State went on another run, including a McMahon attack to the basket and a follow-up free throw. Then it was Thierry hitting a layup, tying the game at 58-58. Unfortunately for the Scarlet and Gray, that was the last time Thierry would see action on the court, fouling out after scoring 18 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and blocking three shots.
The Boilermakers capitalized following Thierry’s exit, going on a seven-point run with four coming inside the paint. Purdue pushed their lead back up to seven, but Ohio State didn’t stop.
Out of a timeout, the Buckeyes cut the lead to five and then forced a 10-second violation in the backcourt. No points came from the turnover though, instead, Purdue kept getting baskets through a charging full-court press.
At the end of regulation, it was Purdue celebrating a third Ohio State defeat, beating the Buckeyes 73-65.
One Player Team
For tougher performances this season, Ohio State’s had at least two players standout and put the team on their shoulders. The first half of Sunday’s game was firmly on the shoulders of Thierry and that makes winning difficult.
Only three players for the Buckeyes hit more than one shot in the first half on 36.7% shooting. Maybe it’s fatigue, maybe it's frustration but no matter what way it's sliced, Ohio State is struggling to meet the expectations they’ve built for themselves through the start of the season.
It got better for the Buckeyes in the second half.
Salvaging the Week / No Good, Very Bad, Week
Ohio State as a program was having a tough week entering Sunday. Both the men's and women’s teams were 0-4 entering the Buckeyes and Boilermakers matchup. Sunday was the last chance to salvage anything in Scarlet & Gray basketball land, but couldn’t do it.
After the losses to Iowa and Indiana, there was a strong argument that Ohio State was still a top-10 team. With Sunday’s performance, that’s heavily in question. All season, the Buckeyes have gone down to opponents and found ways to win but lately, the creativity isn’t there to make the comeback.
The Buckeyes continue their Big Ten conference schedule Wednesday. That’s when Ohio State travels up north to the Wisconsin Badgers for a 7:30 p.m. ET tip-off. It’s another game that Ohio State enters as a heavy favorite, but the Badgers have surprised teams this season after starting conference play without a win in four games.
Then, another potential top-10 matchup. That’s Sunday, Feb. 5 when Ohio State travels to the East Coast for a game against Maryland Terrapins.