Including an exhibition game, Ohio State women’s basketball is coming off the heels of back-to-back 51-point victories.
Against a Cincinnati (1-1) team that won 24 games this past season, that margin will likely shrink for the Buckeyes (1-0).
Heading into the Bearcats’ backyard Wednesday, the Buckeyes have been working on breaking the full-court press that Cincinnati will likely utilize against them, head coach Kevin McGuff said.
Ohio State played 10 of its 13 players in its first game, giving them a deep bench that McGuff said will be advantageous in the coming matchup.
“You have to get everybody focused and ready to play and come off the bench,” McGuff said. “You have to make sure they’re playing hard and spending energy. That’s the goal, since we can do that, is get everybody out there playing as hard as they can.”
In holding Valparaiso to only four points in the third quarter Sunday, defense was a big factor for the Buckeyes. Freshman guard Madison Greene said it was their ability to press and get fast-break points off steals that vindicated the style of play McGuff has implemented.
“We practice faster in practice, so the game is slower to us,” Greene said.
Greene had one block and steal along with three assists, proving to be a key defensive player for the Buckeyes. As she goes into the game Wednesday against Cincinnati, she said she will keep up that momentum by sticking to what she’s been doing.
“I like to stay up on the ball and don’t reach,” Greene said. “Just stay content and try to control the point guard so the rest of my teammates can play better defense.”
The Buckeyes continue their road play against a Cincinnati team that won against Utah and fell to St. Louis. Ohio State has won its previous four meetings against the Bearcats and have an all-time record of 20-4 against them.
The Bearcats return their top two scorers from a season ago in senior guard Antoinette Miller and junior forward Ilmar’l Thomas. Through two games, they are first and second on the team, respectively, averaging 21 and 17.5 points per game.
Ohio State will hold a height advantage over Cincinnati with sophomore forward Dorka Juhasz and freshman forward Rebeka Mikulasikova.
Junior guard Braxtin Miller played her first game as a Buckeye Sunday after her transfer waiver cleared.
Miller and her teammates found out about her eligibility Friday in the film room, and the news was not what the team was expecting.
“They made us think that we were in trouble,” Miller said. “I was really scared, and they said my name, so I was even more scared because I thought I did something, and then they announced it, so it was really exciting.”
McGuff said Miller’s experience at Oklahoma State is needed as much as anything else for Ohio State’s young team. He said on-court communication comes naturally to the Ohio native.
That communication will be needed Wednesday for the Buckeyes, as they take on a tough in-state Bearcats team at 7 p.m. in Cincinnati.