After almost two weeks away, Ohio State women’s basketball returned home; This time for a game against the Wisconsin Badgers. Although the arena wasn’t full like it was against the Iowa Hawkeyes, a Schottenstein Center clad with pink on the night where breast cancer fighters and survivors were honored, brought a festive atmosphere for a Buckeyes team hoping for an eighth-straight win.
The Buckeyes had few issues dispatching the Badgers, beating a team featuring 11 underclassmen 87-49, featuring a program record-tying third quarter.
In the first quarter, the 10-9 Badgers went toe-to-toe with the Buckeyes, with four lead changes in opening period. The catalyst for Wisconsin’s strong start was forward Serah Williams. In eight minutes of the first quarter, Williams scored six points and grabbed six rebounds.
With the added attention of Williams inside the paint, Badgers shooters had open opportunities due to missed defensive assignments for Ohio State.
Even with the 6-foot-4 Williams on the court, the Buckeyes started strong in the post, with 10 of Ohio State’s first-quarter points coming in the paint. Leading the way was forward Cotie McMahon, fresh off her near triple-double performance against the Purdue Boilermakers, tying Williams with six points of her own in the opening quarter.
The start of the second quarter didn’t feature much in the scoring department, with both sides playing good enough defense to keep each other off the scoreboard for the first two minutes and 20 seconds of the quarter.
Once scoring did get started, it was Ohio State scoring the baskets. Wisconsin tried to slow the game down, and the Scarlet and Gray took advantage. The Buckeyes went on a 7-0 run, holding the Badgers to two made shots in the first five minutes of the quarter. Of those seven points, five came off free throws, with Wisconsin putting Ohio State into the bonus with 5:42 remaining in the quarter.
Wisconsin responded, mainly through Williams. On each offensive possession, the ball eventually found the hands of the sophomore forward. If Williams couldn’t get the ball, the Badgers waited as long as they could in the shot clock to find an opportunity. The forward scored six of the Badgers’ 10 points of the quarter, and Ohio State took a 31-26 lead into halftime.
To start the second half, the Buckeyes took over through forward Taylor Thierry. After scoring no points in the first quarter, Thierry scored the first five for Ohio State, plus adding an assist directly after making the first two baskets of the quarter. The seven-point run started the second half, giving the home side a 12-point lead, forcing a quick timeout for the visitors.
That pause didn’t do much to slow Ohio State. The Buckeyes outscored the Wisconsin 24-7 in the first six minutes of the half, forcing six turnovers which led to 14 of those 27 points. For Wisconsin, it would get even worse.
After scoring a program low four points in a quarter two games ago against the Illinois Fighting Illini, the Buckeyes made program history again. Ohio State ended the third quarter with 39 points in 10 minutes. It turned a five-point lead into a 33-point lead, with the Badgers committing more turnovers than points scored (12 to 11).
The 39 points in a quarter ties the second quarter Ohio State had against the Bellarmine Knights on Nov. 23, 2021. Coincidentally enough, two Buckeyes who played in that game were in the crowd, with guard Taylor Mikesell and forward Braxtin Miller watching from the stands.
It put Wisconsin in an impossible position, trying to comeback against the No. 8 team in the country.
To start the quarter, head coach Kevin McGuff started all bench players, except McMahon, who ended the day with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, the forward’s fourth double-double in a row. Only guard Jacy Sheldon scored more than McMahon, scoring 17 in the victory, and adding five assists and three steals.
The Buckeyes had no troubles closing the game out, winning 87-49. In the victory, all available Ohio State players also saw minutes on the court, giving starters needed rest with a tough stretch of games coming to close out the Big Ten schedule.
Ohio State’s home game against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Jan. 21 was the biggest conference home game of the season for the Buckeyes. What’s next is the second on the list, welcoming the No. 10 Indiana Hoosiers to the Schottenstein Center.
The Scarlet and Gray mostly struggled against Indiana last season, except for a 24-point comeback in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. Sunday is the first, and only, time the two top 10 conference sides face each other in the regular season.
Indiana enters the game on a four-game winning streak, sitting with only one defeat in Big Ten play. That defeat? A 27-point road loss to guard Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes.