“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is a popular holiday song and after a two game road trip to the state of Washington, the Ohio State women’s basketball team listened to the title of that song and returned home for a three game stretch to wrap-up the non-conference portion of the schedule. The Buckeyes kicked off the home stand today by hosting Southern University who came into this game looking for their second win of the year.
Ohio State got off to a hot start as Tayler Hill hit a pair of three pointers in the opening minute and center/forward Aleksandra Dobranic added four points to give the Buckeyes a quick 10-2 lead with just over two minutes off of the clock. While most people thought of Southern as just a sacrificial lamb, the Jaguars didn’t view themselves that way and they took advantage of some missed shots by the Buckeyes to go on a 9 to 2 run to make it a 12-11 game with just under fourteen minutes left in the half. After trading baskets for a couple minutes, OSU decided that they had enough of letting Southern hang around, going on a 20-3 run to blow the game open and take a 38-18 lead with two minutes left until intermission. The dominance of that run was made even more impressive by the fact that key contributions came from off the bench as Maleeka Kynard and Raven Ferguson accounted for 6 and 5 of those points, respectively. The Jaguars would close out the half on a 6 to 2 run but the two teams went into the locker room with Ohio State holding a comfortable 40-24 lead.
Ohio State shot very well in the first half, going 50% from the floor and 40% from three point range, while limiting Southern to an okay 34% from the field and 29% from three. Aleksandra Dobranic, coming off of a game where she scored a career high 8 points, equaled that mark in just the first half to lead the Buckeyes in scoring.
As expected from the halftime score, the game was never in doubt in the second half. OSU substituted liberally and cruised to an easy 73-50 victory. For the game Ohio State shot 49% from the field and 25% from beyond-the-arc, missing all six of their three point attempts in the second half. The Buckeyes did a great job of distributing the ball, recording 17 assists compared to 10 turnovers. Southern shot 32% from the field and 33% from long-range while committing 15 turnovers. OSU struggled on the boards, losing the rebounding battle 34-27 and giving up 12 offensive boards to the Jaguars which helped keep the game from being even more of a blowout.
Tayler Hill led OSU with 13 points while also pulling down 4 rebounds, dishing out 2 assists, and coming up with 2 steals and a block. Amber Stokes was the only other Buckeye to hit double figures, going a perfect 4 of 4 from the field as she tallied 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, and no turnovers. Ashley Adams added 9 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and an impressive 4 blocks. Aleksandra Dobranic tied her career high with 8 points and freshman point guard Ameryst Alston added 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Coach Foster used the bend a lot, eleven Buckeyes saw the floor, ten of them for at least 10 minutes and only one player was on the floor for over 30 minutes. Raven Ferguson had the biggest impact off of the bench and it seemed like she was everywhere as she scored 9 points, grabbed 4 boards, had 3 assists, and came up with 2 steals in only 14 minutes of action. In total 10 different players scored for OSU.
While Southern didn’t present a big challenge for Ohio State, this was a good game to get the bench players more experience and experiment with different looks. Foster has gone to the bench far more than he has in the past this season and the extra experience should prove helpful come Big Ten season when you will inevitably have to rely on your bench to win a game or two. The team still needs to work on boxing out, fighting for rebounds, and avoiding occasional defensive lapses but there are a lot of positive signs heading into the conference season.
The Buckeyes will now disperse for a few days so that they can spend their Christmas with their families. The team will have to watch how many Christmas cookies they eat though as they return to action next Thursday, December 27th when they host Virginia Commonwealth at 7:00pm.