After a poor shooting performance in a disappointing loss to rival Michigan, the exciting promise of the Ohio State women’s basketball team’s Big Ten opening upset of Purdue was highly muted. With the Buckeyes heading to Bloomington to face a 22nd ranked Indiana team that entered the game 14-0, things didn’t look terribly promising for OSU’s hopes of turning things around.
The game got off to a competitive start with both teams trading baskets but after almost seven minutes Ohio State held a 12-10 lead. Excellent OSU shooting over the next four minutes led to 8 unanswered points which stretched the lead to 20-10. The Hoosiers cut the lead to 7 over the next couple minutes but the Buckeyes responded with a 13 to 5 run to open up a 38-23 lead with two minutes remaining in the first half. Indiana responded with increased intensity and closed the half on a 6 to 1 run to trim the OSU lead to 39-29 at the break.
The second half opened like the first with both teams trading baskets. With the Buckeyes up 9, back-to-back baskets by Ameryst Alston keyed a 10 to 0 run that extended the OSU lead to 56-37 with just under eleven minutes remaining. Indiana wasn’t impressed and responded with 11 straight points of their own over the next three minutes to make it an eight point game. Suddenly all the momentum belonged to the Hoosiers and they were in reach of the lead. This time it was Raven Ferguson who hit back-to-back baskets to ignite a run of 10 straight points to give the Buckeyes a comfortable 66-48 lead with just under five minutes remaining. The Hoosiers couldn’t respond and would only score three more points the rest of the game, giving them only 3 points over the last eight and a half minutes, as Ohio State pulled off the 70-51 upset win.
After a subpar shooting performance against Michigan, Ohio State quickly showed that this game wouldn’t be a repeat performance as they scorched the nets, hitting 62% from the field in the first half on the way to shooting 53% for the game; the Buckeyes only went 1 of 8 from three point range but wisely limited their long range shots and attacked inside. OSU’s good shooting was in part thanks to excellent ball movement that allowed players to get good looks and resulted in 17 assists on 31 baskets. The Buckeyes only committed 11 turnovers for the game, a positive sign considering how they have struggled in that department at times this season.
Defensively the Buckeyes have been excellent all season and while they allowed Indiana to shoot 41% in the first half, they tightened up after intermission and held the Hoosiers to only 19% shooting in the second half; for the game IU was 29% from the field and 35% from beyond-the-arc. OSU forced 15 Indiana turnovers while swatting 9 shots by the Hoosiers. Rebounding has been a big weakness for the Buckeyes this season and while winning the battle of the boards 38-35 doesn’t put that issue to rest, it is a nice sign.
Ameryst Alston tied her career-high with 29 points; she also added 4 assists and a pair of steals. Raven Ferguson continued her season of excellent performances off the bench as she tallied a career-high 18 points while going an impressive 8 of 12 from the field. Ferguson had struggled a bit with turnovers earlier in the year but did an excellent job with the ball tonight, recording three assists and no turnovers. The third Buckeye in double figures was Martina Ellerbe who put up a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds; she also added 5 assists and 4 blocks. Ashley Adams came off the bench to score 8 points, grab 5 rebounds, and swat 4 shots in a solid performance. Cait Craft only scored 1 point but grabbed 6 rebounds.
This game was a huge bounce back for the Buckeyes after the disappointing performance against Michigan. Coming into this game OSU was 1-4 away from Columbus so the fact that this one came on the road is huge for the Buckeyes. While OSU never trailed and had double digit leads for much of the game, momentum was solidly against them after the Indiana run midway through the second half made it an 8 point game with 8 minutes remaining. On the road, facing a ranked team that was unbeaten on the season, with all the momentum and the crowd against them, many teams would have fallen apart but instead Ohio State not only hung on, they dominated both ends of the court over those final eight minutes making sure that the Hoosiers had no chance of denying them the upset. All season I’ve enjoyed the fight of this team and tonight showed how important that type of fight is.
All it takes is a quick look back to how Ohio State scorched the nets against Purdue and then laid an egg against Michigan to realize the need to temper the excitement from tonight’s win. While this was a huge upset and the team played great, they still remain a young team that struggles with inconsistencies from game-to-game. Still, this was a quick bounce back from a bad shooting game, earlier in the season we saw the team get stuck in a slump that lasted a few games, and the fact that it came on the road possibly suggests that things are starting to come together for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State will face an even stiffer test on Thursday when they travel to Happy Valley to face 14th ranked Penn State. The Nittany Lions are 11-3 on the season and have notched wins of #22 Iowa and #24 Texas A&M; their losses are to #1 Connecticut, by 2 less points than OSU lost to UConn, #4 Notre Dame, and San Diego State, I have no explanation for that one. The game tips at 7:00 pm and can be seen on BTN.