Monday afternoon, Ohio State women’s basketball played in paradise. At the Baha Mar resort in Nassau, Bahamas, the Buckeyes dispatched the East Carolina Pirates, but it wasn’t always an easy feat. It was a game that didn’t match up with the relaxing, tropical, locale. Instead, when the game got away from the Pirates, tensions grew high.
In the third quarter, that hit a pinnacle when forward Taylor Thierry went up for a close range shot, interrupted by Pirates guard Jade Tillman. The play happened right in front of the Buckeyes bench and head coach Kevin McGuff.
In the third quarter of today’s Ohio State game, forward Taylor Thierry was hit in the head on a foul, later upgraded to an intentional foul.— Thomas Costello (@1ThomasCostello) November 21, 2023
Celeste Taylor took no time stepping up for her teammate. pic.twitter.com/F3lvrpSojf
“TT (Thierry) got hit in the head on the shot pretty hard,” said McGuff. “And then there were some words exchanged.”
Before there were words, there was a moment when transfer guard Celeste Taylor wasn’t having any of the situation. On the way to help Thierry, and Tillman walking away from the foul without looking back, Taylor didn’t walk around but through the ECU Pirate.
It was a moment that showed what many people don’t see watching games alone: The leadership of guard Celeste Taylor.
In practice, Taylor’s walking through plays with fellow guard Jacy Sheldon and letting her teammates know what needs to change. Before the season, Taylor was offering a shoulder to cry on and getting new players acclimated to drills and the Buckeyes’ system, although the graduate senior Taylor is new to the team herself.
“That shows just our team culture and how we have each other’s backs,” said Thierry. “We can rely on each other through thick and thin.”
Also included in the fold was guard Rikki Harris, not shown on the game stream because of an in-game replay. For their troubles, both Harris and Taylor received technical fouls, on top of an additional technical for Pirates forward Amiya Joyner and both an intentional foul and technical foul ejection for Tillman.
It’s easy for moments like that to dishevel a team, but it didn’t for a Buckeyes side full of experienced players.
“They’re a very physical team and Coach McGuff was talking about it a lot,” said Thierry. “And so we just tried to prepare for this game during practice. He kept emphasizing how physical they are. They go for rebounds, steals. So we were prepared.”
The preparation was evident. Immediately following the two technical free throws made by Sheldon, Harris hit her third three-point shot of the game, going perfect on three attempts from deep.
For Taylor, who hasn’t hit a stride offensively yet for the Buckeyes, the guard led the team in steals. In addition, Taylor held East Carolina standout guard Danae McNeal to 11 points, under her 19-point average entering Monday.
What the moment, and lack of reaction in the run of play afterwards, was what the team’s said behind the scenes all along: The team chemistry is on a different level. Also, interactions like these only make the team stronger.
“I was very happy to see my teammates have my back,” said Thierry. “And I know that my teammates can be confident that I’ll have their back as well.”