The Ohio State women’s basketball team started in the paint, stayed in the paint, and won in the paint Thursday.
The Buckeyes (3-0, 0-0) rode a strong inside game to beat Virginia Commonwealth University (1-1, 0-0), 83-71, continuing first-year coach Kevin McGuff’s undefeated start.
Senior center Ashley Adams converted a layup less than a minute into the game, and neither Adams, nor the Buckeyes, ever looked back.
At least until late in the second half.
With under two minutes to play, the Rams pulled within five points, but the Buckeyes were able to hold on for the win.
“We had stretches where I thought we played great,” McGuff said in a post-game press conference. “But we didn’t sustain that for long enough.”
The 6-foot-5-inch Adams, who checked in two inches taller than the nearest VCU Ram, poured in 12 first-half points as the team’s leading scorer, sophomore guard Ameryst Alston, spent 12 minutes on the bench. The Buckeyes outscored the Rams 22-6 in the paint going into the break, leading to a commanding 40-26 advantage.
Senior center Darryce Moore said her team saw VCU’s roster before the game, and recognized the Rams’ lack of height.
“We knew that would be to our advantage,” she said.
Alston, who averaged 28.5 points per game over OSU’s first two victories, scored six points in the first five minutes of the second half as the Buckeyes extended their lead to 54-36.
Behind a steady dose of Alston, combined with continued scoring from Adams and Moore, the Buckeyes outscored VCU, 48-20, in the paint. In stark contrast, the Rams relied on the long ball, converting only 11 of a whopping 45 3-point attempts.
VCU coach Marlene Stollings said the high number of jumpers was part of the game plan, even though that would not typically be the case.
“That was part of our strategy coming in,” she said. “We knew they were zone-based; we wanted to get off over 35 threes, clearly we did that.
“We just didn’t make enough of them.”
Overall, OSU shot 55.4 percent from the field, while the Rams only converted 27 of 70 attempts for a shooting percentage of 38.6.
Redshirt-senior guard Amy Scullion said the first 10 minutes of the game were the strongest for the Buckeyes, but their play dropped off at times.
“We brought a lot of energy and I think that’s the team we’re capable of being,” Scullion said. “Obviously, the second half is a different story, and that’s something we’re going to have to address.”
Moore led the way with a double-double, scoring 20 points and collecting 10 rebounds, while Adams finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and a game-high six assists. Alston ended in double figures as well, scoring 14 points.
OSU is scheduled to ride its three-game winning streak into Athens, Ga., Sunday for a game against Georgia.
After the short road-trip, the Buckeyes are set to return home Nov. 22 to play Old Dominion in their first game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Challenge.