While other Ohio State students were preparing for the annual Mirror Lake jump, the Ohio State women’s basketball team was at work as they hosted St. Francis (PA). Before the game it was announced that center Ashley Adams would not be playing due to a leg injury, joining freshman guard Cait Craft as players out of action due to injury. Sophomore Darryce Moore moved from her normal starting four spot to the center position and junior Martina Ellerbe got the start at forward.
Moore and Ellerbe wasted no time in showing that they are comfortable on offense in their new roles tonight as they combined for six points in the opening minutes as Ohio State took an 8-4 lead three minutes into the game. St. Francis showed they weren’t a pushover though, scoring the next five points to take a 9-8 lead with fifteen minutes to go in the half. The Buckeyes responded with a 10 to 3 run that put them up 18-12 with just under eleven minutes remaining in the half. The Red Flash slowly chipped away at the lead and pulled within three, 23-20, with five and half remaining before the break. The two teams traded baskets for the rest of the half with St. Flash pulling within a point but Ohio State managed to hit the last basket of the half and go into the locker room up 32-29.
St Francis came out of the break and pulled within one point, 34-33, less than a minute into the second half. OSU responded with six unanswered points only to go up seven only to see St. Francis come back back and pull within three, 44-41, with fourteen minutes to go. The next minute saw each team hit a three-pointer before OSU went on a 12 to 2 run to go up 59-46 with nine minutes left on the clock. That run seemed to break the will of the Red Flash and the Buckeyes cruised the rest of the way to a 70-54 win.
Ohio State continues to shoot well this season, hitting 50% of their shots from the floor and 38% from beyond the arc. The Buckeyes did a good job of getting to the line, taking 28 free throws but they struggled to hit them, making only 60% of the freebies. Defensively OSU wasn’t as good as they had been, allowing St. Francis to hit 40% of their shots, 25% from three. The rebounding battle turned out even with each team pulling down 32 boards.
Neither team did a good job of taking care of the ball with OSU committing 19 turnovers while St. Francis committed 25. While the Red Flash did play good defense, way too many of the Buckeye turnovers were unforced, coming due to traveling violations or some bad passes. St. Francis showed a lot of different looks and Ohio State allowed their offense to get stagnant at times with too much individual dribbling and not enough ball movement. This has been a problem for the Buckeyes for the past year or so, they play great offense when they are moving and reversing the ball but they go through periods where it seems a mental lapse or something causes them to forget about this and the offense struggles during those times.
Tayler Hill struggled with her shot early but got better as the game went on, finishing with 23 points and going 3 of 7 from three point land. Hill played good defense, coming up with 5 steals and 5 rebounds but she was sloppy with the ball at times, committing 5 turnovers. Amber Stokes had a nice shooting night, going 5 of 9 while scoring 12 points, though she struggled from the line, only hitting 2 of her 7 free throws. As normal Stokes was a defensive presence as she came up with a 3 steals, a block, and 5 rebounds. Martina Ellerbe took advantage of starting and scored a career high 10 points, making every shot she took on the night which included one three pointer. Ellerbe wasn’t the only one with a career high as freshman Ameryst Alston came off the bench to score 10 points. While Alyston was only credited with one steal, her defensive tenacity off the bench made a big difference and was key in shutting down St. Francis late in the game. Darryce Moore finished with 10 points, making 5 Buckeyes in double figures, and Raven Ferguson, Aleksandra Dobranic, and Amy Scullion also scored.
This was definitely a grind-it-out sort of win, Coach Foster said as much during his postgame interview, and it shows that OSU still has a lot of work to do. While the absence of Ashley Adams hurt in the rebounding department, the forwards still need to work on boxing out more and being in better position defensively. On offense, the team needs to continue to look to move the ball and not let the offense get stagnant.
There were a lot of positives from this one, the Buckeyes showed a lot of fight and controlled the game against a plucky opponent that didn’t want to go away, stepping up their defensive intensity in the second half to put the game away. The team responded well to the injury to a starter and Ellerbe did a fantastic job raising her game with her new role as a starter. While Tayler Hill led the team in scoring, seeing 5 players reach double digits shows a nice scoring balance, even with Raven Ferguson having an off night. Ameryst Alston did a great job coming off the bench for a freshman and looked like she could have a very big impact this season.
While this wasn’t a win to brag about, a win is a win and Ohio State showed some very good signs, as well as things that still need work. After a few days off for Thanksgiving, a rarity for a program that seems to like holiday games, the Buckeyes will return to action at 1:00pm on Sunday when they host Wright State.