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Game Preview: No. 12 Ohio State women’s basketball vs. Grand Valley State

Looking at Friday’s matchup, sitting in the shadows of a Monday game against the No. 2 UCLA Bruins.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Clare Grant/The Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Ohio State women’s basketball survived against a tough Penn State side on Sunday, the first test of the Buckeyes’ strength at home in the 23-24 season. Friday has all the signs of being the opposite kind of game for the scarlet and gray. However, what fans see against Grand Valley State heading into the weekend could have immediate dividends in Monday’s huge game at the Schottenstein center against the No. 2 UCLA Bruins.


Is there a benefit of playing a game where one team can beat the other by 30 points or more? According to the Buckeyes, most definitely.

“We really prepare differently for the games like the Grand Valley and the Ohio,” said forward Cotie McMahon. “Only because those are games where we can learn the little things to kind of help us play these Big Ten teams.”

While UCLA isn’t a Big Ten team — that’ll come next year — the preparation against the top teams doesn’t come with experimentation in practice leading up to the game. It’s about strength vs. strength and playing the best version of team basketball.

Games like Friday though are where Ohio State can fine tune. Against Grand Valley State, the focus will be defense.

“Defense is really what McGuff is kinda pushing for us to really buckle down and kinda really get it in our heads that this is gonna win games,” said McMahon. “So let’s make sure that everybody’s in the right spots and make sure that everybody’s on the same page for defense. So I feel like this would be a great game to kinda focus on that and get us back on the right page to that going into UCLA.”

Against the Nittany Lions, the Buckeyes struggled getting back on defense and finding assignments. Guards Makenna Marisa and Shay Ciezki each went off from beyond the arc, combining for 47 points. Using that as motivation, and game tape, head coach Kevin McGuff’s group can clean those things in a game that shouldn’t cause too much of a headache, competitively.

The Grand Valley State Lakers are part of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in NCAA Division II, and are located west of Grand Rapids, Michigan near Lake Michigan on the west side of the state. While history is on the Lakers’ side, beating the Buckeyes in its lone game against them back in March of 1976, college basketball is a little different 47 years later.

However, every team Grand Valley’s faced this year, it has beaten. The Lakers enter Columbus with a perfect 7-0 record, although none against Division I Power Five conference schools. In the past 10 years, the Lakers had one win against Marquette in 2018, but otherwise losses to the Michigan State Spartans and Michigan Wolverines in both regular season and exhibition games.

Even so, while Ohio State will use Friday to work on things, it can’t overlook the Lakers completely. Grand Valley State has players who will stretch the Buckeyes defense from deep. Guards Ellie Droste, a First Team All-GLIAC selection in 2022-23, and Abrie Cabana lead the Lakers from deep, hitting 12 and 14 on the year from three-point range, respectively.

In the paint is 6-foot-2 forward Rylie Bisballe. The redshirt junior has 20 offensive rebounds on the year, and can give the Lakers more second chance points with that ability. Overall, Bisballe averages 8.6 total rebounds per game, coming off a 2022-23 season on the All-GLIAC Defensive Team and Second Team All-GLIAC.

While it isn’t a conference opponent or a UCLA, there are pieces of the Lakers that can hurt the Buckeyes and put the side to work, even though this season has shown that Ohio State hasn’t let up against teams. In games against the IUPUI Jaguars, Cornell Big Red and Ohio Bobcats, the scarlet and gray won by an average of 41 points.

Projected Lineups

Ohio State

G- Jacy Sheldon
G- Celeste Taylor
G- Taylor Thierry
F- Cotie McMahon
F- Rebeka Mikulášiková

Lineup Notes

  • Forward Cotie McMahon earned a spot on the Big Ten Honor Roll this week following 27 points and eight rebounds against the Nittany Lions and 17 points and seven rebounds against the Ohio Bobcats.
  • Guard Madison Greene returned Sunday against the Nittany Lions, playing 3:39 and taking one shot. Expect more on Friday from the point guard who’s missed most of the last two seasons with knee injuries.
  • Guard Celeste Taylor enters Friday with two double-doubles in the past three games, as the guard’s offensive involvement in the Buckeyes improves.

Grand Valley State

G- Ellie Droste
G- Abrie Cabana
G- Nicole Kamin
G- Hadley Miller
F- Rylie Bisballe

Lineup Notes

  • Center Megan Crow, who doesn’t start but averages 18 minutes per game, leads the GLIAC in field goal percentage at 69.8%.
  • The Lakers average 16.6 turnovers per game, the sixth highest in the GLIAC.
  • Grand Valley State has no seniors on the team, but does have three redshirt juniors leading the way in Bisballe, Droste and guard Hadley Miller.


Grand Valley State will start the game strong, likely coming in motivated against the No. 12 team in the country. However, the Buckeyes will weather the early pressure and pull away. Guard Celeste Taylor will be all over the court on defense, limiting shooting opportunities.

Also, McMahon and fellow forward Taylor Thierry will have more room to work in the perimeter. Expect Thierry to bounce back after a seven-point, four-rebound, game against the Nittany Lions.

How to Watch

Date: Friday, Dec. 15, 2023
Time: 6:00 p.m. ET
Where: Schottenstein Center, Columbus, Ohio
Stream: B1G+

LGHL Prediction: 92-48 Ohio State Buckeyes

Suite Opportunity

Monday night is the matchup fans have been waiting for, with UCLA and Ohio State previewing what the Big Ten will look like in future seasons. Fans have a unique opportunity to watch the game like only a few get to do: In a suite.

The Buckeyes are giving away a suite for the game, plus parking. Registration for the giveaway ends today, with the winner selected at 3:00 p.m. ET. No time is set on when the registration officially closes.