The Ohio State women’s basketball team tied their program high No. 2 ranking on Jan. 16. Life was good for the Buckeyes until one week after receiving the honor. Since then, it’s been tough for head coach Kevin McGuff’s side and on Monday the Associate Press voters dropped the Buckeyes to No. 10.
Ohio State’s new ranking is warranted after a week where the Scarlet & Gray ended it black and blue following three straight losses. It began with the Iowa Hawkeyes on Jan. 23, continued with the Indiana Hoosiers on Jan. 26 and the icing on the cake Sunday, when Ohio State fell to the unranked Purdue Boilermakers.
Before Sunday, there was an argument to be made that the Buckeyes would still hold a top-10 ranking because of the quality of teams who handed them defeats. The then No. 10 Iowa Hawkeyes out rebounded the Buckeyes 51-31 on their way to a triple-double by Iowa guard Caitlin Clark. In front of a home sellout crowd, the Buckeyes fell to the Hawkeyes 83-72.
Just three days later, it was the then No. 6 Indiana Hoosiers. This time at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana, the Buckeyes took a four-point half time lead into their second worst quarter of the season. In the third, Indiana held Ohio State to only six points of offense and the Buckeyes needed to come back from 17 points in the final 10 minutes.
The Buckeyes weren't able to accomplish the feat and lost 78-65. In the defeat, Ohio State’s rebounding improved but the Scarlet & Gray couldn’t stop forward Mackenzie Holmes. The forward had 26 points, exposing the Buckeyes defense in the paint. Then, guard Yarden Garzon hit a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
With those two defeats in their heads, Ohio State couldn’t stop the Boilermakers Sunday. Purdue got off to a 14-point first quarter lead on 7-for-9 shooting from three-point range. Even though the Buckeyes eventually tied the game at 58-58, the Boilermakers took advantage of guard/forward Taylor Thierry, the Buckeyes most consistent player this season, fouling out to surge ahead for the 73-65 win.
All season, the Buckeyes have assured people that the ranking doesn’t matter. Ohio State is focused on the long game or competing again in March at the Big Ten tournament and NCAA tournament, but the play that’s gotten Ohio State further down the AP Poll is concerning.
Coach McGuff links it to the team losing its identity. Part of that lost identity is not having guard Jacy Sheldon. Until last week, the Buckeyes continued winning without her but the lack of energy in Ohio State’s press can only improve with her return.
This week, with or without Sheldon, the Buckeyes have two chances to get back on the right track, first in Madison, Wisconsin against the Wisconsin Badgers. After that Wednesday night away trip, Ohio State heads east to the Maryland Terrapins in another ranked matchup.
Also, No. 10 is still higher than where Ohio State began the season, at No. 14. With the Buckeyes’ three losses, Indiana, Iowa and Maryland each moved up in the polls to No. 4, No. 6 and No. 8. With Purdue’s win over the Buckeyes, and Thursday over Illinois, they received enough votes to sit five spots outside of the top-25.