Women's basketball | Ohio State 61, Michigan 50: Buckeyes finish strong, turn back Wolverines

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Coach Kevin McGuff would have been justified to check Ohio State’s uniforms for mud last night after the Buckeyes dug out of a hole to defeat Michigan 61-50 at the Crisler Center.

They played tough defensively the entire game and the offense came alive in the second half behind Raven Ferguson to avenge a 64-49 loss in Columbus on Jan. 5.

“It’s a tough feeling to lose on your home court,” said Ferguson, who scored 16 points. “We went into this game thinking that this was our home game. We played harder than we did at home. We played better defense than we did at home. We rebounded better. We had a good game.”

Along the way, the Buckeyes (13-9, 3-3 Big Ten) overcame a good deal of adversity. The Wolverines (13-6, 4-2), who came into the game tied for second in the conference standings, closed the first half with an 11-0 run to take a 26-21 lead. All 11 points followed OSU turnovers, and Michigan had a 23-4 edge in points off turnovers for the half.

In the second half, the Buckeyes stopped the bleeding and built a 15-6 edge in points off turnovers.

“I thought overall in the first half that we played pretty well,” McGuff said. “Offensively, we had a lot of good shots, but we just didn’t make them. Then in the last five minutes, we really got sloppy. We quit moving. We threw some soft passes, and the half got away from us.”

The second half was a different story.

“We moved more,” McGuff said. “We cut more, and we had better passing and spacing.”

Ferguson was a nightmare for the Wolverines in the second half. She got inside their zone defense to score 12 points. She also found 6-foot-5 Ashley Adams four times inside for layups.

“I just tried to stay in the game, stay out of foul trouble and be very aggressive,” Ferguson said. “I also tried to stay active on defense.

“I always look for Ashley because she’s always down there open. I kind of bring two or three people to me and I dump it off to her. It’s an easy basket for us.”

Neither team shot the ball well in the first half. The Buckeyes hit 8 of 28 shots from the field. The Wolverines were 9 of 27.

The Buckeyes trailed 40-33 with 11:12 remaining when Ferguson found Adams inside for a layup. Ferguson followed with a jumper and then hit Adams on the block again to cut the deficit to 40-39. Cait Craft made a three-pointer, and Ferguson scored again to give Ohio State a 44-40 lead. The Wolverines couldn’t make a basket, which allowed the Buckeyes to pull away.

“I really like when we play (man-to-man) defense,” Ferguson said. “We try to make it tough for teams to run their plays.”

Maleeka Kynard added 12 points off the bench for the Buckeyes, and Ameryst Alston and Adams each had 11. Shannon Smith scored 17 for the Wolverines.

jmassie@dispatch.com

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