The Ohio State women’s basketball team entered their final home game of the 2013-2014 season today on a five game losing streak that had seen the Buckeyes go from solid contenders for an NCAA tournament berth to under .500 on the season and had fueled speculation that the team had just kind of hung it up for the rest of the season. Even though there is still a week left in the regular season, OSU’s last two games are on the road so today’s game was Senior Day for Martina Ellerbe, Amy Scullion, Darryce Moore, Ashley Adams, and Aleksandra Dobranic. Ohio State has really struggled on Sunday’s during the Big Ten season and considering their losing streak coming into the game, there were lots of doubts about whether they could send the seniors out correctly.
Ohio State got things off to an encouraging start with senior Martina Ellerbe opening the scoring with a three pointer as OSU jumped out to an early 7-2 lead. Northwestern would score the next five points before OSU went on a 14 to 3 run to open up a 23-10 lead at the midpoint of the first half. After trading baskets for the next few minutes, the Buckeyes scored 10 straight points, thanks to a pair of three pointers by Raven Ferguson, to extend their lead to 37-16 with five minutes remaining in the half. The teams would trade baskets the rest of the way and Ohio State led 41-21 at the half.
The Ohio State Buckeyes (14-15, 4-9) host the Northwestern Wildcats (14-12, 4-9) Sunday for a noon tip-off. Ohio State, losers of five straight games, look to get a win against a pretty so-so Northwestern team. But then Northwestern, also losers of five straight games, is probably thinking the same thing. The Buckeyes lost a tough game 67-59 to #17 Nebraska on Thursday, while Northwestern lost 82-73 to #9 Penn State the same evening.
Here’s their Profile
After losing to the UConn Huskies on Sunday, things don’t get much easier for McGuff’s team since they travel to College Park, MD to play the University of Maryland Terrapins as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Terrapins are 7-1, their only loss coming to UConn.
Here’s a profile on the University of Maryland
School: University of Maryland
Location: College Park, MD
Student Population: 26,487
School Type: Public, coed
Conference: ACC (for now)
Arena: Comcast Center
Head Coach: Brenda Frese
The Buckeyes have an “interim” game in the Hall of Fame Challenge on Wednesday by hosting the Lehigh University Mountain Hawks. After Sunday’s game against Bowling Green, OSU goes to Springfield, MA to play UConn. In the meantime however, McGuff’s team has to deal with Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks enter this contest on a 3-game winning streak and are at 5-1.
Here’s a profile on Lehigh University
School: Lehigh University
Location: Bethlehem, PA
Student Population: 4,883
School Type: Private
Conference: Patriot League
Arena: Stabler Arena
Head Coach: Sue Troyan
The Buckeyes hosted the Old Dominion Lady Monarchs in the 1st round of the Hall of Fame Challenge. This is the first of three consecutive games for these teams, so this Challenge will prove a good mental and physical test.
Battling early game turnovers, Ohio State got off to a bit of a slow start with 3 early giveaways. The Buckeyes did a good job of beating the OD press, but had trouble with the entry passes to the post. OSU improved their status at the under-12 timeout by pulling ahead 13-12, highlighted by a 3-pointer by Maleeka Kynard. OSU had been working on using their superior height by running a double high post involving Ashley Adams and Martina Ellerbe. At the 8:14 mark, a trey by Ameryst Alston push the score to 22-14. McGuff has a well conceived game plan with the double-high. When the feed pass when into one post player, the other broke to the basket for a pass. Nicely planned.
Sorry to be a little late on this…
Here we are, Game 2 of the Kevin McGuff era, and things are looking good for the Ohio State women’s program. The Buckeyes politely welcomed the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Owls by edging them by the score of 91-88. Despite running off to a 52-41 lead in the 1st half, the Buckeyes tried to see if they could commit more fouls than turnovers in the 2nd half. But, a win is a win, and Coach McGuff is 2-0 as Buckeye head coach.
Ashley Adams got things rocking with a basket :16 into the game, and it was hold on to your hats time. By the time the dust had settled at halftime, Ohio State had moved out to a 52-41 lead. Cait Craft, Ameryst Alston (again) and Ashley Adams powered the 1st half offense. As mentioned in the Preview, FAU struggled a bit with OSU’s size and athleticism. OSU had a 14-4 foul advantage in the 1st half, but up to the 9:00 minute nark, in the 2nd half, the foul differential had evened out
Both coaches made use of frequent substitutions in an attempt to get fresh players on the floor. The Owls amped up the intensity in the 2nd half and at about the 11:00 mark, pulled within 10, before a Cait Crat FG moved margin back to 12 points. However, the 2nd half was more problematic for OSU as numerous fouls and turnovers kept FAU within striking distance. At the 5:40 mark, FAU had closed the gap to 10 points, 80-70. At the under 5 time-out, FAU had pulled with 8, 83-75. Follow me here; at the 2:38 mark, the margin was still 8 points, 86-78, until Latavia Dempsey hits a 3-pointer 86-81.. At the 1:49 it’s now 86-83, at 1:44 it’s 86-85 and the Buckeyes are looking to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.. at :45 mark a Darryce Moor +1 moves margin to 4 points, 89-85. Good thing, too, since an Owl 3-pointer pulled them to within 1 point, 89-88. Two free-throws by Alston sealed the deal at 91-88.
Cait Craft led the Buckeyes with a career high 29 points, with Ameryst Alston scoring 28 and Ashley Adams 14 points. Adams also had 14 rebounds for a double-double, and Darryce Moore also had a DD with 11 points and 10 rebounds. It was a pretty good offensive game, obviously, but the down side was that Craft, Alston and Adams also committed 5 turnovers apiece.
In the preview I thought this would be a good test to see how the Buckeyes could fare against a ‘guard-heavy’ team in the Owls. They won, but could easily have lost. The upcoming opponent, VCU will stress OSU again later this week.
The start of the 2013-2014 season represents the dawn of a new era for Ohio State women’s basketball as Kevin McGuff begins his tenure as the head coach of the Buckeyes. After returning OSU to their proper place at the top of the Big Ten, Jim Foster was let go at the end of last season after three years of slipping performance. After two seasons as the head coach of Washington, McGuff returns to Ohio, he had been the head coach at Xavier for six years before taking the job with the Huskies, with the charge to get OSU to take the next step and compete for National Championships.
McGuff has promised an up-tempo, exciting style of play and his first couple months on the job have certainly shown that he understands up-tempo and exciting. He quickly assembled a coaching staff with a diverse variety of backgrounds: Joy Cheek (previously assistant coach at national power Duke), Patrick Klein (assistant coach at OSU under Foster), and Mark Mitchell (a state championship winning high school boys coach from Taft High School in Cincinnati). With no incoming class signed by Foster, McGuff knew that he had to hit the recruiting trail hard and he quickly made a splash, signing five high profile players (Kelsey Mitchell, Chelsea Mitchell, Alexa Hart, Makayla Waterman, and Asia Doss) who will don the scarlet and gray next season as part of perhaps the best recruiting class ever at OSU.
Adjusting to a new coach is always tough and this season the Buckeyes face the additional challenge of having to replace two of their top players and team leaders from last season as Tayler Hill and Amber Stokes graduated. Hill led the team in scoring (representing almost one third of OSU’s points), assists, and steals while Stokes was second on the team in steals and was third in points. Replacing both Hill and Stokes will be a tall task but OSU returns a lot of talent who have all played together before and who should now be much more comfortable with each other’s styles.
After winning just their second Big Ten game of the year by beating Indiana on Super Bowl Sunday, the Ohio State women’s basketball team hosted Wisconsin in an attempt to finally get a conference winning streak going. This game also represented the first chance at revenge this season for the Buckeyes who lost in Madison last month thanks to a disastrous second half where OSU couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.
The first half was a tight, back-and-forth affair where neither team could get much breathing room in a very tough defensive battle where both teams really slowed down the pace of play. Wisconsin opened with a 6-2 lead only to see Ohio State tie it up at 6 after approximately six minutes of action. The Badgers would go back out front, 10-8 before the Buckeyes scored 7 straight to open up a 15-10 lead with just over seven minutes left in the half. Just as it seemed like OSU was going to have some nice momentum, Wisconsin responded with an 8 to 2 run of their own to retake the lead, 18-17, with four minutes remaining in the half. Those last four minutes continued the defensive, back-and-forth nature of the game but Ohio State managed to claw their way to a 26-24 halftime lead.