Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
After a tough loss against then-No. 7 Notre Dame in the Carrier Classic, the No. 20 Ohio State women’s basketball team came out firing and blazed past Cincinnati in their home opener at the Schottenstein Center.
Wednesday night’s 87-49 victory gave the Buckeyes their first win of the year and Cincinnati’s coach Jamelle Elliott said OSU’s loss to Notre Dame might have served as some extra motivation.
“They had a chip on their shoulder,” Elliot said, “and you could tell tonight.”
The Buckeyes shot 77.3 percent from the floor in the first half and had a 42-21 lead going into halftime.
Senior guard Tayler Hill led the charge with 21 points, while redshirt senior guard Amber Stokes and sophomore guard Raven Ferguson each scored 16 apiece.
The Buckeyes defense stymied the Bearcats all game long and held them to 29.7 percent shooting from the field overall.
“Our defense against Notre Dame was good and tonight’s defense was very good,” said OSU coach Jim Foster. “I think we’re solid defensively at the guard position.”
Stokes said not only was their defense efficient tonight, but they had a strong overall game right from the tip off.
“It felt better than the Notre Dame game from the beginning,” Stokes said. “The defense was good and everyone was getting their shots, so that makes for a fun game.”
This year, the Buckeyes seem to be quick and precise, as they exploited the Bearcats’ defense with hard, dribble penetrations that set up wide open three-point shots, or with pick-and-rolls where players seemed to snipe in accurate passes.
“We are such a faster team this year,” Ferguson said. “With Amber and Tayler on the court, you need to be moving and keep the ball moving at all times.”
Hill was happy the way her team was able to score Wednesday, but said they still have a lot of work to do in order to perfect their offensive scheme.
“According to the score, I think tonight went really well,” Hill said. “We rushed on the ball a little too much in the beginning, but that is something we can fix at practice.”
Coming into this year, many people wondered who would step up to take some of the scoring burden off of Hill, especially after losing their dynamic point guard in Samantha Prahalis, who was drafted No. 6 overall to the Phoenix Mercury in the 2012 WNBA Draft.
Stokes and Ferguson might be the front-runners to fill the void. Stokes, however, said the strength of their team is unity.
“I thought my game was good, but it could have been better,” Stokes said. “We held Cincinnati back and our defense was solid. Everyone was helping each other out and we had one another’s back, and we kept a good rotation. I am proud of the way we played.”
Hill also noted how unique the team’s chemistry is, echoing Stokes comments about everyone having each other’s backs.
“The team chemistry has been the best since I have been here,” Hill said. “We all want to see one another play well and are very supportive of one another. We are very close and I think that shows on the court because we trust each other very much.”
Foster said he is excited about the group of players he has this season, not just because of their versatility and athleticism on the court.
“From day one I’ve liked this group,” Foster said. “They’re unselfish and can be a lot of things this season.”
The Buckeyes will return home to face Winthrop at St. John Arena on Saturday at 2 p.m.