Two women’s basketball teams step on the court Thursday seeking redemption.
Only one came away with it in hand.
Ohio State (14-10, 4-4) took down Illinois (9-12, 2-6), 90-64, at the Schottenstein Center to bounce back from a Sunday loss to Michigan State.
The Fighting Illini, who fell to Purdue Monday, started strong against the Buckeyes and held a 19-16 lead at the 13:36 mark following a 3-pointer by senior guard Amber Moore.
“We had a poor start,” OSU coach Kevin McGuff said. “They are really deadly from the three point line-we had a hard time matching up against (freshman forward Jacqui Grant) on the perimeter so we had to switch to zone so our posts wouldn’t have to guard her on the perimeter.”
But the Fighting Illini ultimately could not hold the lead, and OSU used a 12-3 run to lead by 12 at halftime.
OSU sophomore guard Ameryst Alston said the Buckeyes knew Grant could shoot but they weren’t expecting her to take and make 3-pointers (Grant finished 3-5 from beyond the arc). Alston said they were able to adjust once they got in a zone and execute discipline on the defense.
Offensively, the Buckeyes were facing what Alston called a ‘”funky zone,” but she said they were able to adapt.
“We did pretty well,” McGuff said on their performance against the zone. “We moved the ball and executed and played aggressively enough to generate quality shots.”
OSU kept the pressure on after halftime, and were able to add to the lead in the second half to keep Illinois from coming back.
Alston was a huge part of OSU’s success, pouring in a career-high 31 points and a game-high 10 assists.
“She played really well tonight,” McGuff said of Alston. “When she plays aggressively it is a big deal for our team.”
Another player contributing a lot of buckets for the Buckeyes coming off the bench was junior guard Raven Ferguson, who tallied 24 points.
“(Alston) got us going on offense getting us buckets,” Ferguson said after the win. “Then I just came in and followed up that’s basically what happens when I come in the game. I just try to bring energy, be positive and try to score.”
Ferguson said that there is a connection between her and Alston that allows them to have such great success on offense. Ferguson also said a huge factor to the win was senior center Ashley Adams, because of her size and ability to get to the rim.
“Her size can be a game-changer,” McGuff said on Adams.
Sophomore guard Cait Craft’s hustle and ability to do all the little things right greatly impacted the team. Although she did not score, McGuff said Craft’s play was a key factor in the win.
“Tonight was a good example of a whole bunch of people doing a lot of positive things and that’s our formula for success,” McGuff said.
The Buckeyes shot 57.7 percent from the field, and held Illinois to 43.6 percent.
Up next, OSU is slated to take on Wisconsin (9-11, 2-6) Sunday. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. in Madison, Wis.