Ohio State women’s basketball is one game away from making the Elite Eight for the first time since 1993, the lone season the Buckeyes made it to the NCAA Championship game. To get to that history-making moment, the Scarlet & Gray have to do it against the 11-time NCAA Champions, the UConn Huskies.
Here’s a game preview.
The Ohio State Buckeyes and UConn Huskies enter Saturday’s Sweet Sixteen game with different roads. UConn beat Vermont and Baylor, with even a deficit against the Baylor Bears in the first quarter coming back to win by 19 points
Ohio State was down 16 points to the mid-major James Madison Dukes but cut the second-quarter lead to three by halftime. The Buckeyes pulled away in the second half, winning 80-66.
Against the North Carolina Tar Heels, the Buckeyes needed a last-second shot by guard Jacy Sheldon to move into the Sweet Sixteen. However, the Scarlet & Gray led from the jump until almost 39 minutes of game time. Ohio State came on top thanks to a last-second shot by Sheldon and a calm performance by forward Eboni Walker.
Saturday is UConn’s 29th Sweet Sixteen in a row, older than any player on either team and Ohio State celebrates its second in a row.
This year’s edition of the Huskies features guard Azzi Fudd and forwards Aaliyah Edwards and Dorka Juhász. A knee injury kept Fudd out of the team for most of the season, but the sophomore returned for the Big East Conference Tournament.
Fudd’s strength is her ability to shoot. Before her knee injury, Fudd averaged 17.9 points per game on 53.4% shooting efficiency. Fudd hasn’t found the same efficiency touch, but still scored 22 points in the round of 32 against Baylor. The guard shot 40.9% on Monday, showing that Fudd is getting closer to becoming the player she was prior to her injury.
Goddamn, Azzi Fudd is on one in this 2nd half— Mark Schindler (@MG_Schindler) March 21, 2023
She has such a great/fun game pic.twitter.com/35tscJ3Ztq
Juhász also missed time for UConn, but not as much as Fudd. The former Buckeye started and played in 28 games, missing eight games as Juhász returned from a wrist injury and surgery in 2022.
That took Juhász out of the Final Four for UConn, holding her back from her goal of moving to UConn and winning a national championship. The forward’s shooting this season is her best yet, hitting 50.3% of her shots.
The lone star for the Huskies who didn't miss ample time is Edwards. UConn’s starting forward leads the team with 17 points per game and Edwards’ nine rebounds per game is good for second-best on the UConn roster after Juhász.
With the attention Edwards and Juhász draw in the paint, it’ll be a busier defensive game for forwards Eboni Walker and Cotie McMahon. Saturday’s game is similar to the three times Ohio State played the Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana, like UConn, has a quick, high-scoring, forward in MacKenzie Homes that the Buckeyes do.
The Scarlet and Gray had one strong game against Holmes, in the Big Ten Tournament where Holmes had 12 points and seven rebounds with McMahon giving special attention to the Hoosier.
Ohio State’s press is also key. UConn hasn't seen many presses this season, but the Buckeyes employ one of, if not the, strongest press if it can effectively get going. The press will only get a chance if head coach Kevin McGuff’s side doesn’t get off to a slow shooting start because the Buckeyes won't really press until they score.
Victory against UNC aside, Ohio State had three rough shooting performances in the first half of games. It caused the Buckeyes to come back from 16 and 24-point games against the Tar Heels and Indiana respectively.
While the comeback against Indiana is impressive. It doesn’t mean Ohio State can let UConn get ahead. Since 1989, the Huskies have proven they aren't a team that can be taken lightly.
- Guard Taylor Mikesell leads the NCAA Tournament in three-point efficiency at 38.5%
- Guard Jacy Sheldon has six steals in two March Madness games this season
- Forward Cotie McMahon enters Saturday with six-straight games with double-digit scoring
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- Forward Aaliyah Edwards leads the Huskies with 48 points across two NCAA Tournament games
- UConn has five players averaging double figures per game
- Forward Aubrey Griffin left UConn’s win over the Baylor Bears with back spasms
Ohio State hasn’t beaten UConn in six attempts. In those six games, the Huskies beat the Buckeyes by at least 10 points per game. Saturday will be closer than previous games.
The Buckeyes hit shots early, and keep in the game throughout the 40 minutes but ultimately fall to the Huskies. UConn will run the rebounding margin over Ohio State, and the Buckeyes will have problems against the players in the paint for the Huskies.
UConn’s win will be closer than the previous six, but choosing against UConn feels like a bad idea in March.
How to Watch
Date: Saturday, March 25, 2023
Time: 4 p.m. ET
Where: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, Washington
Stream: ESPN App
LGHL Score Prediction: 88-80 UConn Huskies
Hawkeyes Move On
Friday night, also in Seattle, the Iowa Hawkeyes became the first Big Ten team in the tournament to reach the Elite Eight. The Hawkeyes accomplished it by beating the Colorado Buffaloes.
The win didn’t come easily. Iowa jumped to an early 10-point lead but came back to take a five-point lead. It didn’t last long, and when Iowa went up before halftime they never lost the lead. However, with 1:15 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Buffaloes cut their deficit to four points.
Iowa responded with forward Monika Czinano hitting a layup, and guard Kate Martin scoring five free throws. The Hawkeyes Elite Eight trip is the fifth in the program’s history.