After allowing just 47 points in both of its first two games, Ohio State (3-0) relied more on its offense against Northern Kentucky (0-3), nearly racking up 100 points for a second straight time in a 96-63 win over the Norse behind strong performances from sophomore guards Madison Greene and Jacy Sheldon.
“In the last two games, we’ve been able to knock down shots and just play together well,” redshirt freshman guard Rikki Harris said. “We’re making the extra passes and we’re just hitting shots. That’s a big part, is just hit shots. If you hit shots, the score goes up.”
Sheldon led the team in scoring for the third straight game with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 3 of 6 from deep, while Greene added 17 points and a team-high seven assists.
Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff said that he was impressed with Sheldon’s performance, specifically early in the game.
“She was really locked in from the get go,” McGuff said. “She’s such a great player, it was awesome to see her really kind of get us going on the offensive end.”
Both the second-year guards had to step up with the absence of senior guard Braxtin Miller, who did not play against Northern Kentucky due to an illness, according to McGuff, who also said she should be able to play by next game.
Harris stepped into her spot for her first collegiate start and finished with 11 points, all of which came in the second half, along with four rebounds in 23 minutes, though she did not feel that her role changed much with being in the starting lineup.
“It’s basketball, so I just knew I had to step up and do what I could,” Harris said. “It doesn’t make a difference starting or not, you just have to do what you can do to contribute to the team.”
On the day, the Buckeyes shot 57.6 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from three. Their defense still held strong, with the Norse shooting just 29.9 percent overall and 26.9 percent from deep, but Aaliyah Patty said that is still one of the areas the team needs to improve.
“Defensively, I think we could have done a lot better We could have rebounded better, we could have guarded the ball better,” Patty said. “Offensively, I think we share the ball very well, which is a good thing for us, but if we want to win games, then our defense has a lot better.”
Ohio State ended up with five players in double figures, with junior forwards Dorka Juhasz (18) and Aaliyah Patty (13) also crossing the 10-point threshold. The duo combined for 13 total rebounds on the day.
The game stayed close throughout the first quarter, with Ohio State never trailing, but Northern Kentucky staying mostly within single digits, with the Buckeyes holding a 32-23 lead after 10 minutes of play. Sheldon was the primary reason for the lead, scoring 11 of the team’s first 13 points thanks to a trio of three-point makes, as well as a jump shot from inside the arc.
Ohio State opened the game up with a 16-3 run to start the second quarter, and never led by less than double digits the rest of the way.
Next up, Ohio State will stay at home and take on Miami (Ohio) at 4 p.m. Thursday.
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