CHARLESTON, S.C. – At least one game of the Carrier Classic went on as scheduled.
Though the Ohio State men’s game against Marquette was canceled due to a wet playing surface, the OSU women’s game against Notre Dame went on without a hitch – except for the Buckeyes’ play.
The sea breezes and outdoor environment weren’t kind to the Buckeyes or their shooting percentages as OSU fell to Notre Dame, 57-51.
The Irish and Buckeyes played on the USS Yorktown, a decommissioned aircraft carrier that served in World War Two, the Korean Conflict and Vietnam.
Regardless of victory or defeat, OSU senior guard Tayler Hill said it was an honor to play in an event that honored American servicemen.
“It was a great experience,” Hill said. “It was a once in a lifetime experience that not too many teams get.”
Hill led the way for the Buckeyes offensively. She finished with 18 points and added four rebounds, but the Irish, behind All-American senior guard Skylar Diggins proved too much for the Buckeyes to overcome.
Not only was it the first game of OSU’s season, but it was their first game since the graduation of standout guard Samantha Prahalis, who now plays in the WNBA for the Pheonix Mercury.
The Buckeyes returned their four other starters, but struggled shooting on the outdoor court all evening, especially from 3-point range.
As a team OSU shot 36 percent (20-of-55) from the field 20 percent (2-of-10) from behind the arc.
“This wasn’t a jump shooting game,” said redshirt senior guard Amber Stokes, who finished with 10 points and shot 4-of-14 from the floor.
Twenty-one turnovers also crippled the Buckeyes, but coach Jim Foster said the miscues were not shocking to him.
“Both teams had turnovers,” Foster said. “Both teams were excited. It’s the first game. The turnover aspect of the game was not surprising. It never is early.”
The Buckeyes troubles were evident from the start as it took almost four minutes for the Buckeyes to score. Their first basket came with 16:02 remaining in the first half and OSU trailed, 5-2.
The Irish, who were runners-up in the NCAA Tournament last year, held the lead for most of the first half, until a 3-pointer from Hill knotted the score up at 15 with 7:02 remaining in the half.
On the next possession junior center Ashley Adams banked in a shot form the block to give the Buckeyes the lead, 17-15. Adams scored 10 points for OSU in the first half and grabbed four rebounds, but did not score the rest of the contest.
The lead was short-lived.
Diggins led her team on a 10-4 run at the end of the half to give her team a 25-22 lead heading into the lockerroom. She had nine points at intermission and finished with 11 for the game despite shooting 2-of-11 from the field.
It wasn’t just Diggins scoring for the Irish, however. Junior forward Natalie Achonwa and junior guard Kayla McBride added quick buckets to start off the second half and extend the Notre Dame lead to 35-25.
Achonwa and McBride both finished with 16 points.
OSU responded with an 12-4 run to cut the lead back to two, and every time Irish tried to pull away Hill pulled the Buckeyes within striking distance. Her steal and layup with 6:12 remaining cut the Notre Dame lead to 45-41.
Two possessions later Stokes poked an errant pass away and finished with a fast break layup to cut the score to 47-45 with just more than 4:00 remaining.
OSU went cold for the rest of the game though, only scoring five more points over the next 3:30, including a banked 3-pointer from Hill with 34 seconds remaining to cut the Irish lead to four.
It was too little too late as Notre Dame seized control and pulled away for the victory.
Foster was disappointed in the defeat, but said he learned some things about his team.
“I wanted to see how hard we’d play. I thought we played hard,” Foster said. “I wanted to see how we competed. I thought we competed. Are there things to get better at? Of course there are. Most teams don’t open with the No. 7 team in the country, but I thought it would be good for this team to open with that level of team.”
The Buckeyes return home to face Cincinnati Wednesday. Tip is scheduled for 8 p.m.