After falling to Notre Dame in the Carrier Classic to open the season, their first loss in a season opener in 17 years, the Ohio State women’s basketball team looked to get things back on track tonight in their home opener against instate opponent Cincinnati.
Ohio State got off to strong start, scoring the game’s first 9 points despite a couple miscues. After the 16 minute media timeout Cincinnati finally got their offense going as they went on a 7 to 2 run to cut the OSU lead to 11-7 with fourteen minutes to go in the half. The Buckeyes didn’t let the Bearcats get any closer than that as they went on a 10 to 2 run over their own over the next three minutes to extend their lead to 21-9. A short 5 to 2 mini-run by Cinci cut the lead back to single digits briefly but that didn’t last long as OSU dominated the rest of the half, leading 42-21 at halftime. Ohio State did a great job shooting the ball in the first half, going 77% from the floor and hitting both of their three-point shots. Defensively the Buckeyes held Cincinnati to only 27% shooting though the Bearcats were 2 of 5 from outside the arc.
The second half saw the Buckeyes continue their dominance, slowly expanding their lead and never giving the Bearcats a chance to get back into the game. OSU took advantage of their large lead to substitute liberally in the second half but even the changing line-ups did not slow the Buckeyes down as they coasted to an 87-49 beatdown of Cincinnati.
After a blazing first half, OSU cooled down slightly in the second half and finished the game shooting 67% (35 of 52) from the floor and 58% (7 of 12) from three point range. The only disappointing part of Ohio State’s shooting came at the free throw line where the Buckeyes were only 10 of 15. Defensively OSU held Cinci to 30% shooting from the floor, 27% from beyond the arc. The Buckeyes won the rebounding battle 38-30 but did allow the Bearcats to come down with 18 offensive boards.
Tayler Hill led the way for the Buckeyes offensively, scoring 21 points while hitting 66% of her shots; Hill also had 5 assists and 2 steals. Amber Stokes scored 16 points while grabbing 6 rebounds, dishing out 2 assists, and blocking a shot. Sophomore Raven Ferguson went a perfect 4-4 of in the first half and finished with 16 points and 5 rebounds while going 6 of 9 from the floor and 2 of 5 from three. Ashley Adams put up possibly the most impressive stat line of the night as she recorded 7 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked 3 shots, and dished out an amazing 7 assists from the post. The lopsided score allowed 12 Buckeyes to see the floor, 9 of them for more than ten minutes, and 10 managed to score.
Offensively Ohio State did a great job moving the ball tonight, something attested to by their 19 assists. Good ball movement like that will lead to good looks which the Buckeyes certainly took advantage of. Ashley Adams actually led the team in assists with 7, how often does a center do that? I have long said that Adams is one of the best passing centers ever and if her putting up assist numbers like this makes her very dangerous to defend as opponents cannot bring extra help for fear of her dishing it out to the open player for a clean look.
In my season preview I said that Amber Stokes needed to look to score more and she certainly did tonight, taking 12 shots and making 8 of them. Stokes routinely attacked the basket off the dribble and off of passes from her teammates. In past years defenses have sagged of Stokes since she wasn’t an offensive threat, if she continue to attack like this defenses will not be able to do that and that will help ease the pressure on star Tayler Hill.
The one point of concern from this game was that Cincinnati managed to grab 18 offensive rebounds which they turned into 14 points. While these rebounds came about in part due to Cinci missing so many shots, the Buckeyes need to still do a better job on the boards as you cannot give good teams that many second chance opportunities.
Cincinnati was clearly overmatched in this game but we have to be very happy with what we saw from Ohio State. The Buckeyes were focused and played a great game instead of slacking off due to facing a lower caliber opponent. OSU moved the ball and took good shots with the guards frequently attacking inside to lead to a 52-20 domination in terms of points in the paint. After the game Tayler Hill commented that this team has the best chemistry that she has seen at Ohio State, that certainly showed tonight and hopefully the team can keep playing like that through the season. I still would like to see more offensive production from more of the younger players but that should come with time.
Ohio State returns to action on Saturday when they host Winthrop at 2:00pm in a game that will be played in St. John Arena, hopefully there will be a loud crowd for that one to take advantage of the atmosphere of St. John.