A week later, the slap to the Ohio State women’s basketball team’s ego remained as fresh as the new, post-practice bruise that Ashley Adams sported yesterday on her left upper arm.
Although the Buckeyes (7-3) traveled west to Washington State for a game against the Cougars last week, it felt more like they had headed south following a 62-55 upset loss that knocked them out of the Associated Press top 25.
The Buckeyes rebounded to beat highly regarded Gonzaga 65-60 on the Bulldogs’ home court on Monday. But the earlier loss still stung.
“I was really disappointed in how we couldn’t finish up there,” Adams said. “At the same time, I feel like we needed something to wake us up so that we don’t play that bad again.”
The Buckeyes, ranked No. 24 in the coaches’ poll, did next to nothing right against the Cougars.
“We didn’t move the ball,” Adams said. “We just had difficulty getting it to move, and then we didn’t hit shots.”
The offensive malfunction showed in field-goal percentage (35.7 percent), three-point shooting (5.9 percent) and free-throw shooting (60.9 percent).
A look at the game film, followed by a blunt talk from coach Jim Foster, led to a better performance against Gonzaga in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 5,434. The ball moved and moved again.
“I think sometimes we even tried moving it too much, giving up some open shots and forcing some back-doors,” Adams said. “But, yeah, it moved much better.”
The Buckeyes have one established scoring star this season in senior co-captain Tayler Hill. In Adams’ first season with the Buckeyes, either Jantel Lavender or Samantha Prahalis took the big shots in close games more often than not. Last season, Prahalis and Hill shared that scoring role.
“Well, if you were in a situation with Jan or Sam, obviously you would want them to have the ball,” Adams said. “So in my mind, it was OK if they wanted to shoot. But now, I feel like we need to rely on more people since next year we’re not going to have Tayler or Amber (Stokes). We have to start knowing when to take the right shot.”
The Big Ten season begins for the Buckeyes on Jan. 3 at Iowa. Ohio State has three more non-conference games before then, the first of which is at 7 tonight against Southern University (1-9) in Value City Arena.
Foster, of course, wants more of the kind of play that he saw at Gonzaga and more involvement in the offense by more players.
“Look at the (16 points) we got out of the 4-spot,” Foster said of power forwards Sasha Dobranic, Darryce Moore and Martina Ellerbe. “We played the way we need to play with the emotion and passion and all of that stuff.”
The loss at Washington State still stings Foster as well, but he’ll take Adams’ mention of a wake-up call as a good sign.
“It takes time for the group to understand how important it is to function together,” Foster said. “It’s a team game and that never disappears — ever. When the team understands that, that’s when you get good.”
The Buckeyes are inviting fans to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the game tonight. The toys will be delivered to local fire stations for distribution to needy children.