It is said defense wins games, but for the Ohio State women’s basketball team, rebounding has been the deciding factor on the scoreboard this season.
In games that OSU has outrebounded its opponents this season, the team is 11-1. When they are outrebounded, the Buckeyes are 3-13.
The Buckeyes (14-14, 4-8) are currently ranked 10th in the Big Ten in rebounding margin, getting outrebounded by an average of 4.9 boards per game. That includes getting beat 57-33 on the boards in their most recent game, a 70-49 loss to No. 25 Michigan State Feb. 15, something coach Kevin McGuff said is unsatisfying.
“We did not have the intensity or discipline that we had in the Penn State game,” McGuff said Tuesday, referencing his team’s performance on Feb. 9 when they outrebounded then No. 9 Penn State by a 40-38 margin. “It was disappointing.”
During its current four-game losing streak, OSU has been outrebounded 187-144 and each game has been decided by 11 or more points.
The deficiency in rebounding seems to fall largely on senior centers Ashley Adams and Darryce Moore, who played reduced minutes in the loss to Michigan State because of the emergence of redshirt-freshman center Lisa Blair. McGuff said Blair played more simply because she gave more effort.
“She (Blair) seemed to be playing harder than the other ones,” McGuff said. “Whoever is playing the hardest is who I am going to play.”
The rebounding effort is something everyone needs to improve on in order to be successful, redshirt-junior guard Amy Scullion said. Scullion is fifth on the team in total rebounds with 110.
“That is definitely an area where I have to step up my game,” Scullion said Tuesday. “But rebounding is honestly a team effort so it has to be everyone.”
When the Buckeyes have had success rebounding this season, it has typically come against smaller opponents. Their upcoming opponent No. 17 Nebraska (19-5, 9-3), lists their tallest player as 6-foot-5-inch freshman forward Allie Havers. In comparison, Blair is OSU’s tallest player at 6 feet 6 inches tall.
The upcoming tilt against the Cornhuskers is a game junior guard Raven Ferguson said the Buckeyes need to win.
“We have not beat them since they came into the Big Ten (in 2010),” Ferguson said Tuesday. “This is one of those games that you really want (to win).”
Ferguson, who is the second on the team in scoring and third in rebounds, said despite their current losing streak, the feeling in the locker room is still upbeat.
“We are still a confident team,” Ferguson said. “I still think we feel like we can win and we can beat anybody. We have seen spurts of that in past games.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to try to rebound their way out of their four-game skid against Nebraska Thursday at the Schottenstein Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.