Ohio State Suffers First Loss of Season 53-49 to Georgia

Written November 17th, 2013 by Charles

The Buckeye defense kept them in the game but wasn't enough to secure the win.

The Buckeye defense kept them in the game but wasn’t enough to secure the win.

After getting off to a 3-0 start, the Ohio State women’s basketball team faced its toughest test on the season with a trip to #22 Georgia.  The Bulldogs made the Elite Eight last season and are replacing several starters but still are a tough team that has become NCAA tournament regulars.  Injuries, suspensions, graduations, and a decision to transfer had left Ohio State short handed this season; the Buckeyes haven’t had more than 8 healthy players for any of their games so far.  Fortunately things were a bit better today as guard Raven Ferguson returned to the team after serving a three game suspension for violating team rules.

Ohio State got things started the right way, scoring the first seven points in the game and limiting Georgia to only three shot attempts, all misses, in the opening three minutes.  The Bulldogs finally got on the board thanks to a free throw that then sparked a 12 to 2 run to give Georgia a 12-9 lead eight minutes into the opening half.  The Buckeyes answered right back with back-to-back three pointers from Ameryst Alston followed by a three pointer by Amy Scullion which put OSU back on top 18-12 at the midpoint of the half.  The rest of the half would be a tight, back and forth affair with Georgia repeatedly cutting the OSU lead to 1 point.  Fortunately the Buckeyes responded each time and went into halftime with a 33-29 lead.

Georgia came out strong to start the second half while the Buckeyes looked flat; OSU failed to score for the first six and a half minutes of the second period while the Bulldogs scored 11 unanswered to take a 40-33 lead.  When OSU finally got on the board thanks to a pair of free throws, they then followed those with three pointers by Maleeka Kynard and Scullion as part of an 8 to 3 run that cut the Bulldog lead to 43-41 at the midpoint of the half.  Neither team was able to have much luck scoring from that point and with just under a minute and a half remaining in the game, Ohio State found themselves down 53-47.  A pair of Ameryst Alston free throws followed by a steal by Kynard seemed to give the Buckeyes a chance but OSU promptly turned the ball over and were forced to foul.  The Bulldogs missed the front end of the one-and-one and the Buckeyes grabbed the rebound but were unable to score as Georgia hung on for the 53-49 win.

Unfortunately the men's game wasn't the only one this weekend where this made an appearance.

Unfortunately the men’s game wasn’t the only one this weekend where this made an appearance.

This game was truly a testament of two very different halves, though strong defense was a major part of both halves.  Both teams shot well in the first half with OSU going 41% from the field, 40% (6 of 15) from beyond-the-arc, while Georgia was 42% from the field and 50% (3 of 6) form three point range.  Despite the good shooting, the score was held mostly in check by good defense that made both teams work for good shots.  The second half was completely different as both teams struggled to shoot; the Buckeyes were limited to 14% in the second half but fortunately held Georgia to 26% to stay in the game.  The Buckeye defense managed to block 7 shots but were only able to force 10 turnovers while OSU committed 14 of their own.  The rebounding battle was fairly tight with the Bulldogs holding the narrow advantage, 49 to 46.  Both teams managed to pull down a decent number of offensive boards, 15 for OSU and 18 for Georgia, but the Bulldogs did a much better job of converting those, giving themselves a 15 to 6 edge in 2nd chance points.

Ameryst Alston led Ohio State, and all players, with 22 points and was the only player in the game to make more than 50% of her shots as she went 7 of 13 from the field and 4 of 8 from long range.  Jnior guard Amy Scullion couldn’t match her career highs in points and rebounds that she recorded against VCU but still put up an important 6 points that came on two key three pointers which kept OSU in the game.  Scullion’s size keeps serving her well on the boards as she grabbed 7 rebounds.  Darryce Moore added 6 points and pulled down 10 rebounds while Ashley Adams also grabbed 10 boards to go along with 4 blocked shots, 2 steals, 2 assists, and 2 points.

Turnovers were definitely a problem for Ohio State, primarily from the guards as Alston committed 5 turnovers and Kynard committed 3.  Overall the Buckeyes turned the ball over 14 times which led to 9 points for the Bulldogs; OSU was only able to generate 2 points off of the 10 Georgia turnovers.  Towards the end of the VCU game, we saw Ohio State have some trouble with communication while trying to get back in transition defense and today Georgia easily won the transition game, scoring 10 points on the fast break while the Buckeyes failed to score in this aspect of the game.

For the second straight game, Ohio State’s free throw shooting was awful.  Against VCU, the Buckeyes shot 61% from the line, 50% in the second half, to allow the Rams to make that game closer than it should have been.  The free throw shooting struggles of that second half seemed to carry over to today as OSU went 53%, 9 of 17, from the line.  Fortunately Georgia was even worse, shooting an abysmal 37.5% (6 of 16) from the charity stripe.  Ohio State was 78% on free throws for their first two games of the season and need to quickly get back to at least that percentage.

9465771This loss was disappointing, more so because Ohio State led most of the first half and certainly had the chances in the second half to retake the lead.  OSU’s shooting was definitely disappointing but at least they didn’t let that completely take them out of their game.  When you are having an off shooting night, especially when the whole team is, it is easy to get frustrated and let other aspects of your game slip while you struggle to hit shots; the Buckeyes didn’t do this, playing good defense which kept them in the game.  Everyone knew this was going to be a tough game and OSU hung with a ranked team, on the road, only 4 games into the Kevin McGuff era.  Still, the loss is disappointing and will sting for a bit, as it should.

The important thing now is what does the team learn from this and how do they respond.  It is obvious that the free throw shooting needs to get fixed immediately and transition defense should be tightened up.  The biggest question is how will players, most of who shot well below their average, will respond in the next game?  Will they force shots or will they show patience and work for good, high percentage shots?  We will get our answer this coming weekend as Ohio State begins play in the Basketball Hall of Fame Challenge.  The Buckeyes open the challenge against Old Dominion at 8:00 pm on Friday night and then face Marist at 8:00 pm on Saturday, Bowling Green at 3:30 pm on Sunday, and Lehigh on Wednesday the 27th of November; all games are hosted by OSU.  Four games in six days, including three days in a row over the weekend, will be a grueling test for a Buckeye squad that is a bit short handed but it will also do a great job of preparing the team for the quick turnarounds between games that they will see during the Big Ten tournament, and hopefully the NCAA tournament.  The Hall of Fame Challenge culminates on December 1st with OSU taking on top ranked Connecticut in Springfield, Massachusetts.

1 Comment

  1. KenNo Gravatar
    November 18th, 2013 at 6:52 am

    This is a tough loss, the Buckeyes had it for the taking but the dreaded Basket Lid Monster appeared in the 2nd half.

    Yes, free throw shooting has been brutal lately, an din close games like this, really become important.

    I think that Ameryst has the “shooty” part of shooty hoops figured out, now she needs to work on ball handling. At 5 per game, she’s a T/O machine. Fortunately, she’s young and in the process of getting settled in to McGuff’s offense, so this will work itself out.

    I’m looking forward to the upcoming HoF Challenge.


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