Behind a brilliant shooting performance, the No. 21 Ohio State women’s basketball team outpaced Bowling Green Wednesday at Value City Arena, defeating its in-state rival 94-63.
Although head coach Robyn Fralick’s team (1-2, 0-0 Mid-American Conference) held its first two opponents to a combined 37 percent shooting, the Buckeyes were dominant on the offensive end from the opening tip, shooting 56.6 percent from the field and 57 percent from three.
Head coach Kevin McGuff said his team gained momentum from its strong start, as it allowed the Buckeyes to find their rhythm on both ends of the court.
“I thought we had a great start, and I thought that had a significant impact on the game on both ends of the floor,” McGuff said. “I thought we showed up focused and ready to go with great effort and energy.”
Leading the offense for Ohio State (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) was senior guard Taylor Mikesell, who set the tone in the first quarter with 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting, including a four-point play with 6:18 remaining in the period.
The Massillon, Ohio, native, who tied the team-high in points with 19 on 6-of-10 shooting,said she and her teammates were able to find their rhythm because of the spacing and selflessness they played with on offense.
“We’ve stressed a lot about trying to get the ball side to side,” Mikesell said. “We want to reverse the ball a little bit and try and get everybody a touch. It makes the defense work more, so it’s easier to break down the defense when you switch sides and you get better reads.”
Joining Mikesell on the offensive front was junior forward Rebeka Mikulasikova and junior guard Jacy Sheldon, who each reached double figures with 19 and 17 points, respectively.
McGuff said he was especially impressed with the Nitra, Slovakia, native’s ability to assert her dominance in the paint throughout the game, as it allowed his team to space the floor and get more open shots.
“We need her presence to get us a little balance in how we play, especially on offense,” McGuff said. “We play a little smaller around her, but we can really space the floor because everybody can shoot it. So she needs to give us a presence there and she’s been doing it.”
Being the only forward in a starting lineup consisting of four guards, the 6-foot-4 forward said she placed extra emphasis on performing inside the paint, as it was needed in order to slow down a formidable Falcons frontcourt which features its top two scorers.
“We have four guards and just me, so I know I have to play inside, play hard, grab the rebound,” Mikulasikova said. “It is a lot of responsibility, but I feel like I am working hard and trying my best down there.”
On the defensive end, the Buckeyes’ defense generated 25 turnovers by putting pressure on its guards and disrupting the flow of the Falcons’ offense — one which has four players averaging double figures in points.
Mikesell said instituting a full-court press sped up the game and allowed the team to play at a pace that is geared towards its strengths.
“We’ve been stressing it a lot,” Mikesell said. “Since we are a little bit undersized, we have to put people in tougher situations and pressure them full court. I think it plays to our full strengths, being predominantly guards.”
The Buckeyes will return to action Tuesday when they host Bellarmine of the Atlantic-Sun Conference. The contest will tip off at 7 p.m.