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tBBC OSUWBB: Buckeyes Fall in the Sweet 16

Discussion in 'News' started by Charles, Mar 26, 2016.

  1. Charles

    Charles Guest

    OSUWBB: Buckeyes Fall in the Sweet 16
    Charles
    via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
    Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here


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    After a hard fought win against West Virginia in the second round of the NCAA tournament, the Ohio State women’s basketball team headed to Sioux Falls, SD for the 8th trip to the Sweet 16 in program history. The Buckeyes faced iconic women’s basketball program Tennessee who despite having their worst season in program history and earning only a 7th seed, entered the game with a lot of momentum including an upset of 2 seed Arizona State on the Sun Devils’ home court. While clearly excited to be in the Sweet 16, OSU suffered a blow this week as senior guard Cait Craft broke her hand in practice on Tuesday, ending her playing career at Ohio State. While Craft didn’t light up the stat sheet, she was the best defensive player on the team, commonly making life annoying for the opponent’s leading scorer.

    The game started out as a tight, back-and-forth affair before Tennessee went on 11 to 0 run midway through the first quarter that put them up 19-7 with just over a minute to go in the quarter. Ohio State finally scored again but couldn’t make a lasting dent in the deficit and the Volunteers held a 23-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

    Things looked better in the second quarter as Ohio State scored six quick points to make it a seven point game. The rest of the quarter saw the two teams trading baskets with OSU pulling within six on a couple occasions and Tennessee extending their lead back out to ten a few times. The Volunteers would end up going into the locker room with a 43-35.

    After allowing Tennessee to score the first four points of the second half, Ohio State responded with five straight of their own but couldn’t sustain the momentum as the Volunteers quickly went on a 10 to 2 run to extend their lead to 57-42 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter. The Buckeyes would score four straight but once again couldn’t keep things going as Tennessee scored the last five points of the quarter to take a 62-46 lead into the final period.

    Tennessee scored eight of the first ten points of the fourth quarter to go up 70-48, putting the game effectively out of reach. An 8-0 run by Ohio State gave Buckeye fans a bit of hope as OSU pulled to within 72-59 with four minutes remaining in the game. The OSU offense went cold though, only scoring three more points as Tennessee coasted for a 78-62 win.

    Tennessee entered the game known as a defensive team and their length was a major problem for Ohio State who struggled with their shooting, going 33% from the field and 27% from three point range. OSU did take care of the ball well, committing only 7 turnovers but four of those came late in the fourth quarter, killing the Buckeyes’ hopes of a miracle comeback. The Volunteers’ length allowed them to operate almost at will on the inside when on offense as they shot 50% from the field but only 29% from outside. Tennessee dominated the boards, outrebounding the Buckeyes 53 to 26.

    Senior Ameryst Alston made a nice recovery from the sprained wrist she suffered in the Big Ten Tournament as she put up 21 points that included 5 made three pointers in her final game. Alston also added 3 assists and 3 steals. Kelsey Mitchell added 20 points but was only 5 of 15 shooting while having 4 assists but also 4 turnovers. Makayla Waterman had an impressive performance off the bench with 10 points, 5 rebounds, a steal, and a block. Shayla Cooper had a team high 8 rebounds to go with 5 points and an amazing 6 steals.

    This was an amazingly frustrating loss that brought back flashbacks of the Jim Foster years where we got used to seeing Ohio State earn a high seed in the tournament only to fail to live up to expectations. The familiarity was increased seeing OSU fall to a Tennessee team that used to be a dominant force in women’s basketball. The Volunteers dictated most of this game, never letting OSU get comfortable on offense while using its own length to dominate on the inside. Most opponents have shot well against Ohio State this season as the Buckeye defense doesn’t do a great job of pressuring the shot. OSU’s defensive strength is pressuring ball handlers and jumping in passing lanes, something that they are very good at. However, Ohio State’s defensive pressure primarily is set up by the full court press they employ after a made basket. Their poor shooting in this game meant that the Buckeyes didn’t set up their normal defensive pressure, allowing a normally turnover prone Tennessee team to get the ball up the court much more easily; despite this OSU did force 18 turnovers.

    Injuries have been a major issue for Ohio State the past two seasons, leading to short benches. Ameryst Alston’s injury in the Big Ten Tournament was a major reason for OSU’s loss to Michigan State in that tournament and the effects of that injury probably help contribute to the NCAA second round game against West Virginia being closer than it otherwise would have been. Alston was back close to full strength today but Cait Craft’s injury was an issue. While Craft rarely lit up the scoreboard, she was a streaky three point shooter who could be dangerous as opposing defenses tended to focus mostly on Mitchell and Alston. More importantly, Craft was a defensive force, normally drawing the opposing team’s leading scorer and she routinely did a great job of not only harassing whoever she was guarding but also drawing charges. One has to wonder what would have happened if Craft had been on the court considering Ohio State forced 18 turnovers without her; a few more turnovers and fast breaks early and this could have been a very different game.

    At this point it is easy to be down after how such a promising season fell short in the last few weeks. With Ameryst Alston and Cait Craft graduating, this feels like a big missed opportunity that was made worse by the fact that South Carolina, the 1 seed in the Sioux Falls region, lost earlier tonight, making the Elite Eight matchup look much nicer. However it is important to remember that this is still a very young team and there is help arriving in the form of a strong recruiting class and a couple transfer players who will be eligible this coming season. This loss hurts and I personally am going to be mad about it for a while but Kevin McGuff has done remarkable things already in Columbus and there is no reason to think that the program’s trajectory won’t continue on the upswing even though tonight showed that Ohio State still has a ways to go to be an elite program; at least they seem to know the way.

    The post OSUWBB: Buckeyes Fall in the Sweet 16 appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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