Ohio State women’s basketball: Offense lethargic in ugly loss to Cincinnati

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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CINCINNATI — The offense for the Ohio State women’s basketball team continued to mirror recent weather forecasts yesterday in Fifth Third Arena: cold, with a chance of igloo villages.

The Buckeyes (7-6), who hadn’t scored more than 59 points in the previous four games, dropped an ugly 64-49 decision to the Cincinnati Bearcats (5-4).

OSU shot 33.3 percent from the field and 29.4 percent in the second half while suffering its first loss to Cincinnati since Dec. 10, 1988, and fourth in 20 games.

The problems, however, went beyond the offensive execution. The Bearcats built a 45-35 edge on the glass, had a 16-7 edge in transition points and brought more energy to the court than the Buckeyes.

“We played with very little pace today,” OSU coach Kevin McGuff said. “And that’s not even necessarily in the full court. Even in the half court, we stood, and we were slow to reverse the ball, and we didn’t drive aggressively. We were just really lethargic on offense.”

In the previous two games, the Buckeyes also endured long dead spells on offense. They lost the first to Gonzaga 59-58 on a last-second shot, but executed a last-ditch comeback to defeat Army 59-56 in the second.

McGuff called the continuation of that kind of play “extremely disappointing.”

“In general, we don’t have a whole lot of margin for error in terms of winning,” he said. “We don’t have 10 McDonald’s All-Americans sitting on the bench. But we can be very successful if we win the war of intangibles.”

The Buckeyes never found the right gear for that, which didn’t bother Cincinnati coach Jamelle Elliott at all. A year ago, the Bearcats visited Value City Arena and left with an 87-49 bruise on their record.

“I wrote it on the board in a big red marker,” Elliott said of that final score. “That was clear as day in a big old box when they walked into the locker room today.

“They needed to know last year what they did to us and to understand that we’re not that team anymore. We’re not going to back down anymore, and we didn’t.”

The Bearcats began take control of the game in the final 4 minutes of the first half. Trailing 21-17, they closed with a 12-2 run to take a 29-23 lead into the break.

The Buckeyes closed to 39-36 on a Cait Craft three-pointer with 11:26 remaining. Alexis Durley answered with a three-pointer. Alyesha Lovett added a field goal and a three-pointer over the next 2:40 to give Cincinnati a 47-39 lead.

The Bearcats closed out the victory from the free-throw line, where they enjoyed a 17-5 edge.

As was the case when OSU lost to Bowling Green, the Buckeyes had friends on the Cincinnati team. Raven Ferguson and UC freshman Marley Hill are Africentric graduates.

“It’s kind of like in the family,” Ferguson said. “It’s tough. She’s a freshman, too. She’ll be holding that over my head until we play them again. But I’m more worried about us getting to the point where we’re winning games.”

Ameryst Alston and Darryce Moore each scored 12 points for OSU.

Dayeesha Hollins led the Bearcats with 17.

jmassie@dispatch.com

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