Before the cold grip of winter hits, the Ohio State women’s basketball team got its last taste of summer Wednesday night. It’s when the battle of OSU, featuring the Buckeyes and Oklahoma State Cowgirls, featured on the final night of the Baha Mar Pink Flamingo Championship.
Ohio State held Oklahoma State’s two best scorers to eight total points, beating the Big 12 side 75-57.
The Buckeyes began quickly, getting off to a 5-0 lead in the first 1:16 of the game. It featured a Cowgirls foul on the jump ball, an offensive rebound and put in by Buckeyes’ forward Taylor Thierry and a three-point shot by forward Cotie McMahon. Then clock issues stopped the game as the referee and IT crew at the Baha Mar resort.
When the clock continued, so did Ohio State. Coach Kevin McGuff’s side increased the lead up to a 12-2 scoreline. The Buckeyes got there with energy on the court and making small plays turn into big ones.
Guard Celeste Taylor leapt to save two balls from going out of bounds and giving Oklahoma State possession. Thierry grabbed two early rebounds on the offensive boards and McMahon was the key benefactor on the scoreboard. Within five minutes, the sophomore had 10 points, two rebounds and an assist.
Oklahoma State made adjustments though, mainly in improved rebounding. The Cowgirls sent numbers inside the paint and stopped Thierry after three early offensive rebounds.
At the end of the first quarter, Ohio State had a 24-13 lead, but Oklahoma State outscored the Buckeyes 11-6 in the final five minutes of the quarter. The problem was from deep. Guards Rikki Harris and Jacy Sheldon couldn’t hit and on the other end of the court the Cowgirls answered.
The poor shooting followed the Buckeyes into the start of the second quarter, and Oklahoma State quickly tacked on four more points to put the game within seven points. The side from Stillwater, Oklahoma could’ve tacked on more but it had shooting issues of its own. Through a quarter and a half, the Cowgirls were 1-for-9 from beyond the arc, with many misses on open looks. Make them and it’d require a Buckeyes comeback.
Instead, Ohio State made shots sporadically to keep Oklahoma State in the rearview mirror. Thierry was the catalyst at the start of the second quarter, picking up five points which was important considering the Buckeyes were only 2-for-7 from the floor. What kept Oklahoma State in the game was rebounding.
Oklahoma State continued dominating the boards in the second, out rebounding the Buckeyes 20-6, outscoring Ohio State too, 17-12. What makes the quarter more impressive for the Cowgirls is guard Anna Gret Asi scoring none of Oklahoma State’s points, although she entered the game leading the Big 12 side in scoring with 17.5 points per game. Even so, the first quarter for the scarlet and gray gave them the lead going into the halftime locker room.
Guard Emma Shumate hit one of the nine Buckeye-attempted shots from beyond the arc in the quarter, keeping Ohio State ahead two possessions. Thierry tried to bump it up to an eight-point lead at the buzzer, but was blocked under the rim.
To start the second half, the game plan on offense changed for the scarlet and gray. Instead of trying open looks from deep, the Buckeyes went into the paint, courtesy of forward Rebeka Mikulášiková. The Slovakian graduate senior scored four quick points, and Ohio State’s defense stifled the Cowgirls on the defensive side of the court. Ohio State pushed its lead up to 14 points halfway through the quarter.
Hurting the Cowgirls too was an early third quarter injury. Senior guard Chandler Prater, who led the team with 10 points and 11 rebounds, fell hard with an apparent ankle injury. After Ohio State started the quarter on a 10-2 run, the Cowgirls responded offensively, allowing them to put a half court press in play.
With their preferred defense set, Ohio State’s shooting suffered. The Buckeyes were 1-for-5 following a big start to the quarter. With two minutes remaining, Oklahoma State trimmed the Ohio State lead from 11 to five, and Coach McGuff saw enough, calling a timeout late in the quarter.
From the timeout, passing looked more crisp. Moving the ball around the perimeter, Ohio State was patient, waiting for Oklahoma to close two defenders in. Sheldon benefited, hitting a three-point shot, adding a defensive stop and Thierry layup to shoot the lead back up to double-digits.
The start of the fourth quarter was delayed because of clock issues inside the Baha Mar Resort ballroom. Once it did begin, the slow scoring game continued for the Buckeyes. Although rebounding improved, grabbing six quick rebounds (four on offense), the second chance shots couldn’t land. However, the scoring for Oklahoma State didn’t improve. After a three-point shot by Sheldon, the Ohio State lead increased to 12 points with six minutes remaining in the game.
With Prater out, Oklahoma State seemed to lose that fire on the offensive side of the board, and the Buckeyes slowly grew their lead, ultimately winning 75-57.
Quiet Scoring Quarters for McMahon
The dynamic sophomore played the McMahon basketball folks are used to in the first five minutes of the game, scoring 10 quick points. For the next two and a half quarters though, it was tough going for the forward.
Fouls hurt McMahon, picking up three. In seven third quarter minutes, McMahon only took one shot, missing the chance. It wasn’t a huge blow though for Ohio State with Thierry and Sheldon backing up their teammate. Last year, a quiet game by the Buckeyes best players would cause the team to sink, but 13 Sheldon points and 12 for Thierry through three quarters.
In the fourth, McMahon started with her first points since that first quarter, but provided energy on defense and frustrated the Oklahoma State Cowgirls.
For the first time since March 4, 2023, in the historic Buckeyes comeback win against the Indiana Hoosiers in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal, Thierry secured a double-double. After having 11 games within two rebounds of the statistical feat, the forward did it on the offensive boards.
Thierry had nine of her 14 rebounds come on the offensive side of the court. Even though the guard/forward hybrid had her worst shooting effectiveness of the season, going 6-for-13, the points and rebounds were key in the Buckeyes pulling out an at times nervy victory.
The forward ended the game with 16 points and 14 rebounds, second behind Sheldon’s 20 points.
Ohio State is back to the court soon after the Thanksgiving holiday. Sunday, the Buckeyes welcome the Ivy League to Columbus with Cornell University’s Big Red. Cornell was 10-17 last season, and enter the Schottenstein Center with a 2-3 record.
It’s the final game before the scarlet and gray travel to orange country, facing the University of Tennessee on Dec. 3. Last season, Ohio State began the year against the SEC side, shocking the nation with an 87-75 victory.