Ohio State Survives Scare From VCU

Written November 15th, 2013 by Charles

Darryce Moore scored a career high 20 points to help lead the Buckeyes to a victory over VCU.

Darryce Moore scored a career high 20 points to help lead the Buckeyes to a victory over VCU.

After an impressive win at West Virginia in their opener and a narrow win at home against Florida Atlantic, the Ohio State women’s basketball team looked to continue their undefeated start to the season today as they hosted Virginia Commonwealth University Thursday night.  The already shorthanded Ohio State roster suffered another blow earlier this week as junior guard Shelbi Honeycutt announced her decision to transfer from OSU in order to be closer to home and to get more playing time.  Honeycutt is from Siloam Springs, Arkansas so her decision certainly makes sense and we wish her all the best.  Honeycutt’s decision left the Buckeyes with nine available players for Thursday night’s game as Raven Ferguson is serving the last game of her three game suspension for violating team rules and Kalpana Beach is out with an ACL injury.  While the current roster is small, good news awaits on the horizon as earlier in the day Kevin McGuff and the Buckeyes officially signed five new players (Asia Doss, Alexa Hart, Chelsea Mitchell, Kelsey Mitchell, and Makayla Waterman), four of who are ranked in the top 100 in the country, to a recruiting class that is ranked as high as #2 in the nation.  While this new recruiting class promised great things for the future, the Buckeyes still had more pressing business to attend to in the form of the VCU Rams.

The game started out a little sloppy for Ohio State as they missed a few shots and had a pair of turnovers in the first two and half minutes which raised some concerns that the turnover issues that plagued the Buckeyes in the closing minutes against FAU would once again be a problem against a similar, fast paced, guard-heavy VCU team.  OSU led 4-2 just over two and half minutes into the game but then things settled down, the Buckeyes started to take better care of the ball and hit their shots to take a 13-4 lead at the first media timeout while hitting 6 of 8 from the field.  The Buckeyes extended that lead to 19-6 with eleven and half minutes remaining in the half when they hit what could have been a hiccup as Ameryst Alston picked up her second foul however guard Amy Scullion quickly scored five points to take care of any lost offensive production.  After extending their lead to 26-11 with eight minutes remaining in the half, the Buckeyes started having turnover issues which fueled a 7-0 run by VCU.  Ohio State recovered though and put together a 14 to 5 run to push the lead to 17 before a Rams’ three-pointer at the buzzer made it 40-26 Buckeyes at the break.

Ohio State showed some phenomenal shooting in the first half, making 62% of their shots from the field and going 2 of 4 from three point range.  This was even more impressive considering Ameryst Alston, the team’s leading scorer, sat out most of the first half due to foul trouble.  The rest of the team stepped up though and Ashley Adams led the Buckeyes at the break with 12 points with Cait Craf adding 7, Amy Scullion adding 5, and Martina Ellerbe coming off the bench to contribute 6.  OSU held VCU to only 27% shooting and forced 8 turnovers but struggled with turnovers of their own, committing 14 turnovers which kept the halftime lead from being bigger. 

VCU opened the second half on a 10 to 4 run that cut the Ohio State lead back to single digits, 44-36.  The Buckeyes quickly countered with 10 unanswered points to push their lead to 18 points just over five minutes into the second half.  That last run looked like it had put the game out of reach as the next nine minutes wouldn’t see VCU get any closer than 12 and OSU led 72-53 with just under seven minutes remaining.  The Rams weren’t willing to concede the game just yet as they went on an 18 to 4 run to make it a 5 point game, 76-71, with two minutes remaining.  With the game suddenly in jeopardy, the OSU defense stiffened and the Buckeyes hit free throws in the closing minutes to survive with an 83-71 win.

Ohio State’s shooting cooled down a bit in the second half, especially in the closing minutes, but they still finished the game shooting 55% from the field, though they were only 2 of 9 from three point range, hitting none in the second half.  The Buckeyes held the Rams to 39% from the field and 24% from long range though it was their three point shooting that largely kept the Rams in the game.  Realizing the size mismatch against the Buckeyes, the Rams focused mostly on shooting from outside, taking 45 of their 70 shots from beyond-the-arc.  The amount of shots from deep meant that the rebounds were longer than normal, allowing VCU to counter OSU’s size in that department, though Ohio State won that battle 42-37.

Darryce Moore and Ashley Adams led the Buckeyes with 20 points each; this was a career high for Moore.  Moore also added 10 rebounds for a double-double while Adams grabbed 9 boards.  Adams continues to be one of the best passing centers in the country as she recorded 6 assists while Moore added 4 assists of her own.  Ameryst Alston and Cait Craft were held well below their season averages, only managing 14 and 9 points, respectively.  Darryce Moore wasn’t the only Buckeye to record career highs as junior guard Amy Scullion recorded a career high 9 points and a career high 8 points, a large amount of that production coming when Alston or Craft had to sit due to foul trouble.  At 6’0”, Scullion has very good size for a guard and she continues to show that she can take advantage of her length either defensively, or in the case of this game, on the boards.

For the second straight game, turnovers were a problem for Ohio State, this time they committed 21.  The turnovers have come from all positions and are likely a result of a new offensive system and new players playing increased minutes.  It is important to note that the turnovers have seem to be more of a problem against guard heavy teams, like FAU and VCU, showing that the Buckeyes still have word to do to adapt to the more up-tempo style the Kevin McGuff wants.

The turnovers were not the main reason for Ohio State allowing VCU to get back into the game in the closing minutes.  The Buckeyes actually did better in the second half in terms of turnovers, only committing 7 turnovers in the final twenty minutes after committing 14 in the first half.  The biggest reason for VCU’s run, in addition to a timely improvement in the Rams’ shooting, was a combination of some relatively poor shooting by the Buckeyes and some defensive failures, primarily some failures to communicate while getting back on defense in transition.  A good portion of the miscommunication during transition defense is likely due to a team that is still adjusting to a new system and new players filling new roles.  However, this needs to be fixed quickly as the upcoming schedule features teams that are much more capable of turning those momentary lapses in communication into fatal mistakes for the Buckeyes.

This is the second game in a row where the Buckeyes have seen a comfortable second half lead evaporate in the closing minutes.  While it is great that once again the Buckeyes dug deep and came up with the necessary plays that were needed to persevere a win, these last two wins have been too close for comfort.  This team has far more talent and is far more dangerous than most people gave them credit for prior to the start of the season, however they still have a lot of things they need to improve on if they want to live up to their potential.  Still, I’m already getting the impression that this is a team that plays better with a chip on their shoulders, while trying to prove the doubters wrong.  The Buckeyes will have another chance to silence the doubters when they travel to #22 Georgia on Sunday.  The Bulldogs made the Elite Eight last season but lost a number of key players to graduation in the offseason.  The Buckeyes and Bulldogs will tip off on Sunday at 2:00 pm in a game that will show just how far each team has come in this still young season. 

2 Comments

  1. KenNo Gravatar
    November 15th, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Charles, well done, thank you. I just have a couple of impressions:

    BAD: 1st half turnovers and 2nd half shooting. In the first half, OSU had 15 turnovers and 14 field goals. That’s giving up a lot of points, especially when shooting over 60% from the field. The turnovers led to 12 VCU points. This game should have been over at half-time. The 2nd half shooting overall was good (50%) but 3-pt (0-5) and FT (11-22) came up short.

    GOOD: Ohio State buckled down and again held off an opponent’s 2nd half push to preserve the win. I love the tenacity. Team mate ‘step-up’. With Ameryst Alston and Cait Craft having fair/poor games, Amy Adams and Darryce Moore stepped up with superb games. The Buckeyes now seemingly can come at you with any number of players.

    [Reply]

  2. zNo Gravatar
    November 15th, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Sounds like Honeycutt had a major case of homesickness. The aggressiveness of OSU girls is good. Everyone needs to be ready to play.

    [Reply]

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