Coming off of a heart-breaking loss to North Carolina that saw them battle back from a huge deficit only to come up just short, the #15 Ohio State women’s basketball team returned home to host Evansville. Coming into this game the Buckeyes had won 26straight home games, the longest active streak in the Big Ten and third longest in the country, behind Stanford (81 wins) and Baylor (43 wins). OSU made two changes to the starting lineup for this game with freshman Ameryst Alston starting at point guard, shifting Tayler Hill to shooting guard, and redshirt junior Sasha Dobranic starting at power forward instead of Darryce Moore.
Evansville did not get off to a good start as they opened the game with a team technical foul and Tayler Hill hit one of her two free throws to give Ohio State a 1-0 lead before any time had even run off the clock. The two teams traded baskets for the first few minutes and OSU held a 10-7 lead five minutes into the game. At this point the Buckeyes stepped up on both sides of the ball, going on a 20 to 6 run to extend their lead to 30-13 with eight minutes remaining in the half. The Aces weren’t done though, scoring 7 straight points to cut the lead to 30-20 with four minutes remaining but the Buckeyes closed the half on a 10 to 3 run to go into the intermission up 40-23.
Ohio State kept up their momentum to open the second half with one of the most dominating performances in a long time. The Buckeyes held Evansville scoreless for the first 11:47 of the second half while scoring 23 points of their own to take a dominating 63-23 lead with just over eight minutes remaining. The rest of the game was just a formality as OSU coasted to a 78-33 win.
Ohio State had their best shooting night of the season, and they have shot really well for most of the season, hitting 63% of their shots from the field and 44% from three-point-land. OSU did a very nice job of moving the ball, recording 21 assists while turning it over only 13 times. Defensively the Buckeyes held the Aces to 23% shooting, 19% from beyond-the-arc, while forcing 18 turnovers. Evansville was definitely outsized, especially after Foster made the move to go with an even bigger line-up by starting Sasha Dobranic, normally a center, at power forward. Despite that size difference, it was still great to see OSU dominated on the boards, winning the rebound battle 32-21.
Tayler Hill led OSU with 20 points while hitting 60% of her shots, a nice sign after how she has struggled a bit with her shooting this season. Hill also added 4 assists, 2 steals, and a block while never turning the ball over. Ashley Adams had an amazing shooting day, going 7 of 10 for 14 points, while also recording 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks. Amber Stokes put up 8 points, 3 boards, and came up with 3 steals in another impressive defensive effort. Ameryst Alston more than earned her starting spot by going a perfect 4 of 4 to score 8 points. Alston also added 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and one steal while only committing two turnovers, a great performance for a freshman who will likely be starting the rest of the season.
The huge lead for pretty much the entire game allowed Foster to use his bench extensively. All thirteen non-redshirted players saw the floor for at least five minutes and all thirteen scored. Foster continues to use his bench far more this season than he normally does and that can only pay off as the season goes on with the increased depth it will help generate. Alston getting moved into the starting lineup is likely due to the amount of playing time that she had previously gotten off of the bench this season and her performance during that time. Alston took advantage of that time and has shown that she has already adapted to the college game and good be an emerging star who is a threat on both offense and defense.
Sure this was a game against a sub-par team that didn’t present a real challenge but it is still hard to argue that Ohio State didn’t put up an impressive performance. I don’t care who your opponent is, hitting over 60% of your shots is damn impressive, as is holding your opponent to only 10 points in the second half. This Buckeye team isn’t overlooking lesser opponents and is playing up to their potential in each game, something that they haven’t always done in recent years.
The Buckeyes will get a week off and then will host Lafayette next Sunday at 1:00pm in a game that will be streamed on BTN.com. That game will serve as a last tune-up before OSU takes a road trip out west that will see them visit Washington State and Gonzaga in a three day stretch.