The Ohio State women’s basketball team has nine games remaining in the Big Ten schedule. Wednesday, they play one of two consecutive away games, beginning with a trip to the University of Wisconsin.
After three straight losses, the Buckeyes hope a game against the Wisconsin Badgers means going back to the Scarlet and Gray’s winning ways.
Ohio State and Wisconsin enter Wednesday’s game in vastly different circumstances. The Buckeyes sit at 19-3, and look to hit their stride before the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments come around in March. The team with the home court on Wednesday night hasn’t had a winning season in 12 years and hasn’t been in the NCAA Tournament for 13 years.
Even so, Wisconsin is an intriguing team this season and it isn’t a game the Scarlet & Gray can look past.
The Badgers are in their second season with head coach Marisa Moseley, and the former UConn and Minnesota assistant coach has Wisconsin playing some good basketball. They also play a style of defense that the Buckeyes have had recent trouble against with Purdue.
“You can talk a lot about a lot of things but if somebody wants to sit in the zone or sit in the paint and make you score from the perimeter,” said McGuff. “They can do that and you’ve got to make shots to make them do something different.”
Those shots aren’t falling as of late. Ohio State is 14-for-68 from the line during their three-game losing streak. It got to the point that defenses were letting the Buckeyes shoot when it wasn’t guard Taylor Mikesell with the ball from deep. Should those shots not fall on Wednesday, it could be trouble for the Scarlet & Gray.
It’s also movement issues for McGuff’s side, or lack thereof. Against Purdue, players weren’t moving in and out of the zone to pull defenders away and allow drives to the basket. Using players like forward Cotie McMahon or Taylor Thierry to run into the post off the ball makes defending the Buckeyes more difficult, and a reason why they once averaged the most points in the country per game in the early weeks of the season.
Wisconsin can score too, and they’re doing it with a dynamic freshman leading the way: Forward Serah Williams. The 6-foot-4 forward from Brooklyn, New York is a new kind of weapon for the Badgers.
Badgers strike first with an and-1 from Serah Williams! pic.twitter.com/ez84IcujJh— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerWBB) January 29, 2023
Instead of moving the ball around and biding time before taking a shot, Williams has the ability to drive to the basket and draw attention from the defense. Then, if the defense does break, Williams can pass the ball around the perimeter until an open player gets an open shot.
This season, Williams leads the Badgers in scoring and rebounding this season with 12.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. In Williams’ last six games she’s gotten better, scoring 17.3 points (at 60.4% efficiency) and 6.5 rebounds per game. The first game of that stretch was an overtime win for the Badgers over the Michigan State Spartans where Williams had 31 points and 12 rebounds.
It’s another battle of players making strong plays for Big Ten freshman of the year with McMahon representing Ohio State’s chance at grabbing the postseason honor.
Another name to be familiar with is guard Julie Pospíšilová. The guard from the Czech Republic received an Honorable Mention in last season’s All-Big Ten Team and this year she’s become a more well-rounded player.
Pospíšilová’s scoring is down slightly, a dip from 14.1 to 12.4 points per game, but she’s increased her rebounding and assists by over one in each category. The forward is eighth in the conference in assists per game, benefiting from the play of Williams in her second year under coach Moseley.
- While guard Jacy Sheldon is close to returning, Tuesday head Coach McGuff didn’t confirm if she’d play Wednesday
- Guard/forward Taylor Thierry leads the Buckeyes with 66 fouls, leading to three games where the sophomore’s fouled out this season
- Guard Taylor Mikesell is 14 points away from scoring her 1,000th point as a member of the Buckeyes
- Wisconsin features just one transfer, starting guard Avery LaBarbera who joined the Badgers this season from the College of Holy Cross, an opponent of coach Moseley when she coached Boston University
- Nine of the Badgers' 15 rostered players are underclassmen with eight freshman
- Wisconsin is 2-8 in the Big Ten but had back-to-back wins against Michigan State and Minnesota early in January
The Buckeyes win this game. The message of last week is loud and clear in the brains of Ohio State and Wisconsin is the team on the other side of what could be an angry Scarlet & Gray team.
Mikesell leads the offense, scoring over 20 points, and another big game from McMahon attacking the paint.
Wednesday is a good game for Ohio State to return to their fundamentals of pressing and moving quickly on offense before going East on Sunday to face the No. 8 Maryland Terrapins.
How to Watch
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Kohl Center, Madison, Wisconsin
LGHL Prediction: 89-61 Ohio State Buckeyes
One Month Remains
Wednesday is the first day of Feb., the final month of the Big Ten season. With the change of the calendar brings renewed pressure to fine-tune things before the postseason begins at the end of the month. It’s about the fundamentals that put Ohio State in this position for coach McGuff.
“Get back to being really process-oriented,” said McGuff. “And just remind them ‘hey, we’ve had great success this year because we’ve done these things. We’ve played with pace. We’ve been very aggressive in the full court. We’ve really shared the ball and moved the ball and executed.’”
While chances are lower now with three losses, the Buckeyes still have a regular season championship to content for along with both the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament. There’s plenty to play for in the remaining nine games of the regular season.