It has been a fool’s errand predicting how the Ohio State women’s basketball team will play each game, but how the Buckeyes knocked off No. 24 Michigan on Thursday night showed a way they can navigate perhaps the deepest conference from top to bottom in the country.
"I think it's a little bit by committee for us,” coach Kevin McGuff said. “Madison (Greene) was obviously playing really well, so we kind of rode her at the end and gave her some opportunities to make some plays, and she made them.”
Greene’s 23 points were more than her previous three Big Ten games combined. Ohio State committed a season-low nine turnovers and made a season-high 11 three-pointers for a nine-point win.
There was no player that was insignificant or overly significant. There’s plenty of talent on the roster, but there’s not a star. It will take a collection of players to fill that void, like Greene’s and Kierstan Bell’s efforts against Michigan.
When the Buckeyes (9-6, 2-2 Big Ten) play Penn State (7-8, 1-3) on Sunday at Value City Arena, McGuff is looking for some type of carryover in the performance against Michigan to indicate that the team is growing.
"Sometimes we get out there and try to make (plays) by ourselves to do something for the team,” McGuff said, “but (against Michigan), we really executed and stayed together.”
It would have been the type of game Kelsey Mitchell took over during her four seasons with the Buckeyes. But this time, when Ohio State was down two points in the fourth quarter, five players scored and the Buckeyes closed on a 19-8 run.
They got important plays late from Greene and Bell. But undervalued contributions, like Dorka Juhasz limiting Michigan forward Naz Hillmon to six points in the second half after she scored 17 in the first, are needed just as much, especially in a conference that is projected by ESPNW to have 10 teams in the NCAA Tournament.
They’ll need another big defensive performance against Penn State guard Kamaria McDaniel, the No. 2 scorer in the Big Ten.
"I just feel like we need to keep being composed in the tough situations,” Greene said, “and just make sure we take care of the ball, stick to the game plan and play defense.”