The Ohio State men’s basketball team wasn’t the only Buckeye squad looking to end a losing streak tonight. The OSU women’s basketball team came into tonight on a two game losing streak and were looking to break that as they traveled to Ann Arbor to face rival Michigan. The game was even more meaningful as the Buckeyes were looking for revenge after losing to the Wolverines in Columbus earlier in the month.
Neither team started out shooting well in the game and points were difficult to come by early on; at the midpoint of the first Ohio State led 8-7. The Buckeyes managed to get the offense going a little better over the next three minutes as they used an 8 to 1 run to open up a 16-8 lead with just over six minutes remaining. The two teams then traded baskets and with three and a half minutes remaining OSU held up 21-15. Unfortunately, the Buckeye offense hit a wall at that point and didn’t score the rest of the half while Michigan closed with 11 straight points and the Wolverines headed into the locker room with a 26-21 lead. Ohio State shot atrociously in the first half, going 29% from the field and 22% from three point range. Fortunately, Michigan didn’t shoot much better going 33% from the field and 20% from beyond-the-arc.
Michigan hit a layup to open the scoring in the second half but Ohio State responded with a 10 to 3 run to tie the game at 31 six minutes into the second period. The Wolverines quickly fired back, outscoring the Buckeyes 9 to 2 over the next two and a half minutes to retake a 40-33 lead. Ashley Adams and Raven Ferguson weren’t impressed by the Michigan run though and teamed up on the next three baskets with Ferguson hitting a jumper sandwiched between assisting on layups by Adams. The baskets by Ferguson and Adams sparked the rest of the Buckeyes and ignited a 17 to 2 run that put Ohio State up 50-42 with five minutes remaining in the game. That run pretty much broke Michigan’s spirits and the Wolverines would never get closer as Ohio State cruised the rest of the way to a 61-50 win.
After their pitiful shooting in the first half, Ohio State completely turned things around in the second half, shooting 60% from the field in the second half to go 43% for the game. The Buckeyes didn’t improve their three point shooting percentage in the second half, going 1 of 5 from long range, but they cut down on shooting from outside and focused on going inside and had great success in doing so. OSU did a nice job moving the ball, recording 14 assists on 23 baskets, but they also struggled with turnovers as they committed 18. Defensively the Buckeyes made life miserable for the Wolverine shooters as they held Michigan to 31% shooting from the field and 13% from three point range. OSU forced 17 turnovers while essentially breaking even in the rebounding battle.
The heros of this game was the Ohio State bench which produced 30 of the 61 Buckeye points. Raven Ferguson came off the bench to lead OSU with 16 points while also pulling down 7 rebounds and contributing 4 assists while committing 2 turnovers. Close behind was Maleeka Kynard who also came off the bench to put up 12 points, 6 rebounds, a block, and a pair of steals. Ameryst Alston and Ashley Adams each scored 11 points to make it four Buckeyes in double figures; Adams just missed a double-double as she grabbed 9 rebounds while also recording 3 blocks.
Ohio State struggled with foul trouble for most of the game. The Buckeyes committed 21 fouls for the game and Martina Ellerbe, Cait Craft, and Ameryst Alston all were called for 4 fouls each. Fortunately most of those fouls were non-shooting fouls and Michigan only took 14 shots from the charity stripe while the Buckeyes took 15 shots on 16 Wolverine fouls. A common problem with having players in foul trouble is that those players often play a bit more tentatively in order to avoid getting called for more fouls. The Buckeyes didn’t fall into that trap, continuing to play aggressively, especially on defense, and it paid off as the Wolverines could never find their shot and no Buckeyes fouled out.
After a two game losing streak, this win was huge. Ohio State went on the road to face their arch rival that had already beaten them by a comfortable margin this season. The Buckeyes twice weathered runs that put the Wolverines up by 7 points and gave all the momentum to Michigan and had to deal with a first half marked by major shooting struggles. OSU didn’t panic or shrink in the face of that, instead they dug deep and found answers on both ends of the court that culminated in a dominating run in the middle of the second half that broke the spirit of the Wolverines. The win was truly a team affair as well with four Buckeyes scoring in double digits and the top two scorers coming off the bench.
Ohio State returns to action on Sunday when they host Michigan State. The Spartans are currently tied for second in the Big Ten with a 4-2 conference record and a 12-7 overall record. After an impressive win over then 16th ranked Nebraska early in January, MSU has lost two straight, losing to 16th ranked Penn State and Illinois over the last week. The game will tip at 12:30 on Sunday and will be broadcast on BTN.