No. 8 Ohio State rolls past overmatched McNeese State in 99-43 win

Bailey Johnson
The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State guard Taylor Mikesell (24) scored 13 points in a 99-43 win against McNeese State on Nov. 20, 2022.

Taylor Mikesell was grinning.

The Ohio State guard rushed up the court on a fast break, and when she turned around to look for the pass, she spotted Madison Greene sprawled on the floor — as she heaved a pass up to her teammate. Mikesell broke into a wide smile and smoothly scored the layup, putting the No. 8 Buckeyes ahead by 38 points at the 4:58 mark of the second quarter.

The sequence, from Greene's steal and pass to Mikesell's easy finish and joyful expression, summed up Ohio State's 99-43 win over McNeese State (1-4) on Sunday afternoon at the Schottenstein Center. The Buckeyes, as expected, rolled past their overmatched opponent, led by 15 points from sophomore guard Taylor Thierry and 14 points apiece for Jacy Sheldon and Rebeka Mikulasikova.

"We tried to focus on being the best version of ourselves, whether we're playing Tennessee or we're playing McNeese State," coach Kevin McGuff said. "As soon as you start picking and choosing who you're going to show up and have focus for and play hard for, you're going to get dealt a harsh lesson. I thought we showed up ready and imposed our will on the game early on."

The Cowgirls scored the game's first basket, leading 2-0 30 seconds into the first quarter, but Mikesell hit a 3-pointer on the next trip down the floor, and that was it for McNeese State. Ohio State (4-0) went on a 26-0 run over the next five-plus minutes before the Cowgirls were able to score again. The Buckeyes induced 11 turnovers in that stretch and finished with 38 total for the game.

In the second quarter, McNeese State had better shooting luck, improving to 50% from 21.4% in the first quarter. But it also had only 12 shots in the quarter, as Ohio State's pressure continued to cause the Cowgirls problems on nearly every possession.

By the end of the first half, the Buckeyes had stretched their lead to 60-23. McGuff began the second half with his original starting five on the floor — Mikesell, Sheldon, Thierry, Mikulasikova and Cotie McMahon — but it didn't last long.

With 6:18 left in the third quarter, Rikki Harris and Madison Greene re-entered the game for Sheldon and Thierry. Thierry came back in late in the third quarter after Emma Shumate left with an injury, but Sheldon's day was done after just over 14 minutes of action with the Buckeyes in firm control. Sheldon scored 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting, with two assists and five steals.

Greene played 26 minutes, the most she's played so far this year as she works her way back to full fitness after missing last season with a knee injury. Transfer Eboni Walker also played the most she has in an Ohio State uniform, 21:42, as the Buckeyes were able to turn to their bench heavily in the second half.

All 14 players on the roster were used.

"We started with three kind of tough games, kind of tricky games," McGuff said. "I relied heavily on our returners and the people with experience, but we do want to give the other kids a chance to get in there and maybe earn some minutes or at least show us what they can do."

Senior guard Hevynne Bristow took advantage of that opportunity, playing a season-high 18:03 with seven points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. She was rewarded with the team's player of the game chain after the game, and it was an emotional moment for Bristow after she appeared in just 11 games last season.

"I'll admit it, I cried a little," Bristow said. "Last year, I was hurt all season, sick all season. It just meant a lot that my work paid off. My teammates trusted me and my coaches trusted me. It just felt good, them having my back."

Ohio State women's basketball poses on the bench during a game against McNeese State on Nov. 20, 2022.

bjohnson@dispatch.com

@BaileyAJohnson_

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