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Women’s Basketball: No. 20 Buckeyes return home to tango with Mount St. Mary’s, No. 10 Indiana

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Ohio State sophomore forward Gabby Hutcherson (2) moves into the paint for a layup during the Ohio State-Bellarmine game Nov. 23. Ohio State won 110-58. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor

Following its first road trip of the season, the No. 20 Ohio State women’s basketball team returns home this week for a nonconference matchup with Mount St. Mary’s and a Big Ten clash with No. 10 Indiana.

The Buckeyes (6-2, 1-0 Big Ten) will host the struggling Mountaineers (1-5, 0-0 Northeast Conference) team Tuesday who has yet to record a win against a Division-I opponent and has been outscored by 89 points in its last five games.

Despite Mount St. Mary’s early season struggles, junior guard Jacy Sheldon said the team’s preparation and focus in practice remains the same leading up to the contest.

“We put a really strong emphasis on taking games one at a time, game by game, focusing on the next competition ahead of us,” Sheldon said. “We’re going to watch film and get focused for that game. We’re not thinking about Indiana until we’re done with that.”

Head coach Antoine White’s team features three double-digit scorers in its starting backcourt, with graduate guard Kendall Bresee leading the charge with 13.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and four assists per game. Rounding out the Mountaineers’ offense are redshirt junior guard Aryna Taylor and senior guard Michaela Harrison, who average 10.4 and 10 points, respectively, along with a combined 26 rebounds and 13 assists.

Although Mount St. Mary’s will bring a talented backcourt to Columbus Tuesday, head coach Kevin McGuff said it is the Mountaineers defense that could pose problems for his team, as they will present unique looks to try and mitigate the Buckeyes’ high-paced offense.

“They have a little bit of a different ball-screen coverage on the wings,” McGuff said. “We’ll have to make some adjustments there. I think they’re really going to try and take away our transition [offense] and make us execute in the half court.”

Coming off a sub-par offensive performance Sunday where the Buckeyes committed a season-high 22 turnovers, McGuff said his team will need to clean up its sloppy play this time around, as the Mountaineers force their opponents to 15.3 turnovers a game.

“[Sunday] was bad,” McGuff said. “Our offensive execution was not good, especially in that first half. Until the end, we turned it over a little bit against their press. But we’ll certainly put some emphasis on our offensive execution.”

After hosting Mount St. Mary’s, the Buckeyes will gear up for a bout with No. 10 Indiana (5-2, 0-0 Big Ten), which returns all five starters from a historic 2020-21 campaign where the team reached the Elite Eight for the first time in program history and earned a 21-6 record.

The Hoosiers — who were picked to finish second in the Big Ten preseason poll — feature a smothering defense that has held its opponents to a measly 38.7 percent from the field and 31.2 percent from three. Indiana has also only relinquished an average of 59.6 points through its first seven games.

Head coach Teri Moren’s team also features a potent offense with all five starters averaging double figures in points. Leading the scoring for the Hoosiers are a duo of preseason All-Big Ten team selections — junior forward Mackenzie Holmes and senior guard Grace Berger — who average 16.6 points and 13.3 points, respectively, along with a combined 93 rebounds and 39 assists.

Facing off against a formidable and familiar opponent who can dominate on both ends of the floor, McGuff said his team will have its hands full when the Hoosiers visit the Schottenstein CenterSunday, as they have a talented and veteran roster that can compete for a championship.

They have a great team,” McGuff said. “Having played them over the years and having all those kids come back, they have a very deep, talented, experienced team. They had a great season last year and they look like they are kind of building on that. They’ve been playing really well this year.”

With a matchup against the contending Hoosiers looming, Sheldon said her team needs to rely on its strengths and trust each other if they want to come away with a victory against a top-ranked opponent — something the junior guard said would be significant for the team’s confidence moving forward this season.

“It’d be huge for us,” Sheldon said. “We have to stick to what we focus on every day. [We need to] stay disciplined, stay on each other every day, and I think we can do that. But they’re a great team and it’s always something to look forward to when you play a ranked team.”

The Buckeyes’ matchup against the Mountaineers will tip-off Tuesday at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on BTN+. Sunday’s bout with the Hoosiers will also start at 7 p.m. and will be televised on BTN.

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