Ohio State women's basketball: Off to a sizzling start
Shooting 77 percent in first half, Buckeyes use their speed, quickness to romp in home opener
Guard Amber Stokes of Ohio State looks to pass around Tiffany Turner of Cincinnati. Stokes matched her career high with 16 points.
The ball moved the way that the wide-eyed Ohio State players had described it during the unseen hours of practice leading up to last night’s home opener against Cincinnati in Value City Arena.
From A to Z and all points in between, passes zipped and players moved and scored within an all-for-one offense that sizzled in an 87-49 victory over the Bearcats.
A quick team a season ago seems to have discovered a different gear since practice began in October.
“We’re so fast, you’ve got to be like this,” sophomore guard Raven Ferguson said, snapping her fingers twice. “The ball just moves. It just doesn’t stop. It’s not dribbling around. It’s moving. That’s what I think the difference is.”
The 20th-ranked Buckeyes (1-1) declawed the Bearcats in the first half by hitting 77.3 percent (17 of 22) from the field and breaking to a 42-21 lead. The defense also was smothering — Cincinnati shot 29.4 percent for the game.
“They’re a good team, and they play (darned) good at home,” Bearcats coach Jamelle Elliott said. “I’ve been coaching this game for a long time, and I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a game where a team shot 77 percent from the floor, missing five shots. It’s hard to win games like that.”
The Buckeyes were up 9-0 less than five minutes into the game. The Bearcats put a defensive chaser on Tayler Hill, but really to no avail. Hill bided her time while the ball kept moving and watched Amber Stokes and Ferguson take turns burning the Cincinnati defense in the first half. She was happy to share what she had seen in practice with the 2,732 fans.
“It’s hard to stop us when we move the ball,” said Hill, who led the Buckeyes with 21 points. “We have too many threats.”
Ferguson reached with a career high 16 points. Stokes also scored 16, which matched her career high. Center Ashley Adams contributed seven points, 10 rebounds and a career-high seven assists.
“In the beginning, I thought everybody was taking their time with their shots,” Stoke said. “A lot of people were getting good looks, and I thought the defense was pretty good, too.”
Stokes played Cincinnati point guard and fellow speedster Dayeesha Hollins head up for much of the game. Hollins did score a team-high 15 points but needed 18 shots to do so.
“She was definitely a quick player,” Stokes said. “She’s a pretty good player. I’m glad I got to go up against her.”
The blowout nature of the game allowed Buckeyes coach Jim Foster to get 12 players into the game. Everyone had positive moments.
“I like this group,” Foster said. “They’re unselfish. I think we have a lot of pieces, and we can be a lot of different things. We just have a lot of different looks we can throw at you. And I thought our defense tonight was real good.”
Overall, the concept of team triumphed.
“Like I’ve said before the season started, this team chemistry is a lot different and the best since we’ve been here,” Hill said. “We all get along, and I think that carries over to the floor. We all want to play for each other and all want to see each other do well.”