After opening Big Ten play with an upset win over 17th ranked Purdue, the Ohio State women’s basketball team looked to continue their great start to conference play as they hosted the hated Michigan Wolverines. Michigan entered the game 9-4 with a narrow loss to #15 LSU and a loss in the season opener to Bowling Green, who handled Ohio State one of their 6 losses.
Ameryst Alston got things going early, hitting a three pointer on the first possession to open the scoring. Ohio State struggled to follow that and Michigan went on a 16 to 4 run to take a 16-7 lead just over nine minutes into the game. The two teams began trading baskets though neither team shot particularly well. The Buckeyes weren’t helped by struggles with turnovers (8 in the first half) and fouls (8 in the first half compared to only 4 for Michigan) but at least got a bit of a break as the Wolverines also struggled to take care of the ball (9 turnovers). When the horn sounded for halftime, Michigan led 25-13.
After shooting amazingly well against Purdue, the first half was a disaster for the Buckeyes as they only shot 19% from the field while going 1 of 12 from three point range. Fortunately the OSU defense kept the Wolverines from completely taking advantage, limiting Michigan to 35% from the field. Rebounding also went Michigan’s way as they grabbed 28 boards to OSU’s 18.
A Martina Ellerbe jumper opened the scoring in the second half to cut the Michigan lead to 10 however the Wolverines responded with an 11 to 4 run to go up 36-19 just over five minutes into the second half. Ohio State shot much better in the second half, hitting 44% of their shots from the field and going 5 of 13 from three point range, but unfortunately Michigan also shot better, 38% from the field and 3 of 4 from long range. The two teams essentially traded baskets for most of the first half with OSU never able to really cut into the Michigan lead as the Wolverines pulled off a comfortable 64-49 win.
For the game Ohio State shot 31% from the field and was 6 of 25 from beyond-the-arc, a major disappointment after a great shooting night against Purdue. The Buckeyes also had a disappointing day on the boards, getting out-rebounded 48 to 33 after winning that battle against the Boilermakes. The Buckeyes did do a much better job taking care of the ball in the second half, committing only 5 turnovers after intermission after committing 9 in the opening half. Unfortunately foul trouble continued to plague the Buckeyes as they committed 13 fouls in the second and Michigan made them pay for it by hitting all 20 of their free throws. OSU had another solid defensive effort, limiting Michigan to shooting 36% from the field and forcing 19 turnovers.
Ameryst Alston led Ohio State with 15 points but struggled taking care of the ball, committing 5 turnovers to only 1 assist. Martina Ellerbe added 10 points and 5 boards while Darryce Moore led the team with 7 rebounds and added 7 points. Raven Ferguson came off the bench to score 8 points and record 3 assists; Ferguson has done a great job coming off the bench in recent games and does seem to give the team a spark when she does so.
After such a great showing against Purdue, this loss was profoundly disappointing. The Buckeyes continue to be inconsistent offensively as evidenced by their abysmal first half shooting. I did like the fight from the team in the second half and they did a great job finding good shots after the break when it would have been easy to panic and force things. Unfortunately the foul situation in the second half was too much to give OSU any chance of a comeback and the team needs to take care to play with more discipline.
After the non-conference season it was pretty clear that Big Ten play was going to be very up and down for this team as they still adjust to a new coach and a new system. There are some glaring issues with the team (offensive consistency, rebounding, turnovers) but also some positive signs (good defense, fight). This game really demonstrated both of those aspects and clearly showed what the team needs to work on. Fortunately the Buckeyes have some time to address these issues as they have almost a full week before they face Indiana in their first Big Ten road game on Saturday at 4:30pm in a game that will be televised on BTN.