After a disappointing loss at Cincinnati on Sunday, the Ohio State women’s basketball team saw their record fall to 7-6 on the season. With the holidays and the start of Big Ten season looming, the Buckeyes need to finish off the non-conference part of the schedule strong in order to build some momentum to carry into 2014. OSU has been 1-4 away from Columbus so it is fortunate that the last three non-conference games are all in Columbus, starting with tonight’s game against University of Tennessee Martin.
The game got off to a slow start with neither team shooting well and six minutes in the score was tied at 8. Amy Scullion’s second three pointer of the night got things going for the Ohio State offense as Cait Craft quickly followed with a three pointer of her own to put the Buckeyes up 14-8. A three pointer by UT Martin cut the lead to three but OSU responded with 13 straight points to go up 27-11 with just under eight minutes left in the half. Even when the Skyhawks managed to score to stop the OSU streak, it didn’t slow down the Buckeyes who extended their lead to 33-14 with a minute and a half remaining in the half. At that point it seemed that the Buckeyes were mentally already in the locker room and UT Martin took advantage, scoring the last seven points of the half to narrow the OSU to 33-21 as the teams headed to the locker room.
After a slow start to the game, OSU shook off their recent shooting woes and finished the half 46% from the field and 4 of 6 from three point range. Other than the last two minutes of the half, the Buckeyes played excellent defense, limiting the Skyhawks to 21% shooting.
UT Martin continued their momentum from the end of the first half to trim the Ohio State lead to 38-29 just two minutes into the second half. OSU pushed their lead back to a dozen only watch the Skyhawks use some good three point shooting to make it an eight point game, 43-35, with fifteen minutes left on the clock. The Buckeyes weren’t fazed though, responding with a 12-0 run to push the lead back to 20. A three pointer and pair of foul shots by UT Martin cut the lead to 55-40 but OSU quickly responded with a layup by Martina Ellerbe that drew a foul. The UT Martin coach disagreed a bit too strongly with the call, earning himself a technical foul which led to a pair of free throws by Ameryst Alston to make it a 59-40 game at the midpoint of the second half. From that point it was pretty much all Ohio State as the Buckeyes coasted to a
Ohio State not only continued their good shooting in the second half, they improved it to finish the game hitting 53% from the field while going 8 of 12 from beyond-the-arc. The Buckeyes did a good job of taking care of the ball and moving it around, recording 15 assists while committing 12 turnovers. Defensively OSU only forced 7 turnovers but that didn’t matter as they held the Skyhawks to 27% shooting from the field. The Buckeyes used their size advantage to shut down the inside, forcing UT Martin to attempt 41 three pointers. As opposed to earlier in the season when they struggled to defend the three, OSU did a much better job of getting out on shooters and while the Skyhawks were able to shoot 31% from long range, it wasn’t enough to keep them in the game down the stretch.
Amy Scullion was the star of the night, notching a career high 11 points in the first half on the way to finishing with 19 points and 9 rebounds. Even more impressive was that Scullion was perfect shooting, including hitting all 5 of her three point attempts. Ameryst Alston and Martina Ellerbe each added 13 points with Ellerbe also adding 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks while Alston tallied 5 boards and a pair of assists. Cait Craft added 12 points while Raven Ferguson came off the bench to score 12 points and grab 6 rebounds. Ferguson has struggled a bit lately with her shooting and turnovers and while those were still an issue tonight, she made up for it by getting to the charity stripe 8 times and hitting all of her shots.
Ashley Adams had sort of disappeared lately for Ohio State in part due to her limited mobility which hurt her effectiveness against more athletic teams. While Darryce Moore got the start at center, Adams did a great job coming off the bench and in her 23 minutes on the court she added 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. This was a very solid performance for Adams and hopefully indicates that she is going to be more of a factor for the Buckeyes in the coming weeks.
Other than the few minutes at the end of the first half and at the start of the second half where the Buckeyes went into a bit of a mental funk, the only real negative part of this game was once again OSU’s rebounding. The Buckeyes had a solid size advantage on the Skyhawks and while they started out dominating the boards, things evened out over time and OSU only won the rebounding battle 45 to 38. UT Martin dominated the offensive board numbers, grabbing 15 offensive rebounds to OSU’s 6. Fortunately the Buckeye defense kept the Skyhawks from being able to really take advantage of their second chance opportunities.
After a disappointing loss to Cincinnati that could have really hurt the mindset of the Buckeyes, it was great to see them come out and not only get the win but to dominate. Most of the issues that had plagued the Buckeyes recently when they went 1-3 were resolved in this game as they markedly improved their shooting, moved the ball around better, and cut down on the number of turnovers. It was great to see Amy Scullion have such a dominating night; Scullion had already had several good performances this season and was showing signs that she was going to become a major factor for the Buckeyes and hopefully this game will turn out to be her official coming out party. It wasn’t just Scullion who was responsible for the win tonight; when you have 5 players score in double digits and 6 grab at least 5 rebounds you have great balance.
Ohio State has one more game before they break for Christmas as they host Appalachian State on Friday at 7:00 pm. After that game the Buckeyes will get some much needed time off to spend with their families before they return to Columbus to host North Carolina Central on December 29th in their last non-conference game before the start of Big Ten play in January.