On Thanksgiving Eve, the Ohio State women’s basketball team said thank you. Specifically, 105 thanks to the Wright State Raiders for a 105-52 win in front of home fans.
Playing against a tougher team than Sunday’s McNeese State, where the Buckeyes scored 99 points, Ohio State showed what it could do. Even without a key player on the offensive, the Scarlet & Gray go into the holidays in a good mood, apart from a few injury exceptions.
Here are notes from Wednesday’s Thanksgiving appetizer.
miss the party
Unfortunately for Ohio State, Wednesday’s holiday win saw two “no” RSVPs due to injuries. Jacy Sheldon and Emma Shumate both missed the game, with Sheldon still competing, sitting with the team but donning a plastic boot on her right foot.
After the game, head coach Kevin McGuff said none of the injuries were serious as Sheldon was suffering from a lower leg injury and would not give a specific word on Shumate’s illness.
Sheldon’s 6.7 steals per game were missed by Ohio State. The team still forced 23 turnovers, though that was down from Wednesday’s 34 per game average.
Missing the game for Sheldon also breaks their 80-game streak of starts dating back to their 2019-20 freshman season.
Ohio State scored up and down the roster Wednesday, and all but the two injured Buckeyes saw time on the court. All five starters and substitute Hevynne Bristow scored double digits.
Most impressive was a trio of starters, who shot 20:23 alongside forward Rebeka Mikulášiková in guards Madison Greene and Taylor Thierry. Thierry, who is a popular house guest this year as everyone wants more from the guard, broke another personal record on her fifth straight start.
This time it fired from the field and made all seven attempted shots, part of the Buckeyes 52 points in the paint (which equaled all of Wright State’s points combined).
Mikulášiková was also among those 52, scoring 10 of his 18 points in color with strong presence in color.
Green bean casserole
While Greene didn’t start this season until Sheldon went down with an injury, the supplement became the focus.
Greene put on another great performance, recording 17 points and two assists that the eight-court double-double missed. Resilience in an afternoon game made it even more special as Greene hit 32 minutes, something she’s been working on since missing all of last season. This improvement in conditioning means Ohio State can have them on the court more often, which is what their teammates want.
“Madison is always great,” said Thierry after the game. “She brings so much energy and is so consistent both offensively and defensively. We know she can do anything the team asks of her and she made really big progress today.”
Sheldon and Greene bring different things to the team as launch point guards, but each is dangerous in their own way.
Fill past results
Forward Cotie McMahon’s last three games have not gone as she had hoped, at least statistically. McMahon still creates problems for opposing attacks and forces steals, even as her teammates receive some credit.
On Wednesday, McMahon forgot those past results and kept her confidence high on her way to 16 points. Even after a tough half that saw the Dayton, Ohio freshman shooting just 5-1 off the floor, she came out in the second half and showed fans in the arena and streaming from home that the future was for McMahon and the Buckeyes is rosy.
McMahon’s second half featured a different person. Early in the third quarter, McMahon grabbed two steals in 15 seconds. Shortly after those steals, she hit her first three of her NCAA career after missing her first two, spanning Ohio State’s last two wins.
The newcomer showed that she can score with paint strength or finesse. When McMahon’s shot comes, there’s nobody on the field better than her.
Also, during the Buckeye’s biggest run of the game (12 points), McMahon scored five of the 12 points and squeezed Ohio State’s lead to 42 points. Not bad considering Wright State had 38 overall at the time.
Going back to those two points in the first half, although they weren’t much, they were still pretty good.
have a high flight
In the last few games, Buckeyes guard Taylor Mikesell hasn’t needed to take over a game like she did last season. Aside from her 15-point third quarter against Tennessee, Mikesell has been a consistent role player but hasn’t been the fulcrum of all attacks.
Mikesell started a game of scarlet and gray for the first time without Sheldon on Wednesday and got off to a hot start. It seemed to calm the team and get them into an early groove that they maintained throughout the game.
The Massillon, Ohio guard hit her first four three-pointers before going a little cold and not making another all-game. She also stuffed a ball under the basket for a block early in the contest. Mikesell’s 16 points didn’t lead the team, but it was the start of an overall solid night.
The Buckeyes broke two records showing improved decision making and not rushing their ball movement. Ohio State had a season-low in turnovers with six players (which halved the previous record of 12) and had 26 assists on offense.
An impressive assist from the 26 comes from Mikulášiková, who had a no-look pass to Greene early in the third quarter.
Although Wright State is a team with higher-quality players than McNeese State, the Buckeyes’ improved game resulted in a stronger overall performance.
One area that didn’t make Coach McGuff too happy was the press. It wasn’t as effective as past games without Sheldon covering much of the space in defense and bringing high intensity to the press.
I told them at halftime,” McGuff said. “‘They had seven turnovers in the first half and then eight in the first five minutes of the third quarter.’ Just to sum up how hard we played after half-time, but we didn’t play as hard as we should have in the first half.”
If Sheldon’s injury, which doesn’t have a fixed schedule, leaves her out of the Nov. 30 game against No. 10 Louisville, Ohio State won’t have much time to find someone to absorb the same infectious intensity that Sheldon brings.
Roast the Bird
Although it will be after Thanksgiving, the birds the buckeyes are likely looking forward to are the Louisville Cardinals.
Louisville has slipped up in recent weeks, falling to 10th place in the AP poll, but Tuesday, November 30 will still generate plenty of buzz — and with good reason. The Cardinals will reveal the identity of the 22-23 Buckeyes. Can they play another full 40 minutes like they did to open the year against Tennessee? Could it evoke the same reaction they had against the Vols if they went to a program of notoriety away from home? Can they possibly win without Sheldon?
We’ll find out soon enough.