Ohio State women's basketball team finally hits the road, thumps Illinois
More than six weeks after the Ohio State women’s basketball team’s season was originally scheduled to begin, the Buckeyes on Thursday finally played a game away from Value City Arena.
The change in scenery did nothing to change the team’s good fortunes to start the coronavirus-disrupted 2020-21 season.
Aaliyah Patty recorded a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, Jacy Sheldon added a game-high 20 points and fast-starting Ohio State remained unbeaten by rolling Illinois 78-55 in the State Farm Center.
Once again playing without starting center Dorka Juhasz and bench regulars Rebeka Mikulasikova and Rikki Harris, the Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) raced to an 18-8 lead after the first quarter as Sheldon scored 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting from three-point range and Patty added seven points.
“They’re two big key players on our team so I gotta step up and help out,” Patty said of missing Juhasz, an all-Big Ten performer, and Mikulasikova.
Ohio State hasn’t said which players tested positive for COVID-19, but an increase in cases on the team prompted the program to shut down in late December before returning to play on Monday with a win against Penn State.
Against Illinois, OSU increased its advantage to 38-23 at halftime as Patty scored six second-quarter points, but the Illini (2-5, 0-4) made a run in the opening minutes of the third quarter, closing to 38-30 on a basket by Eva Rubin.
The Buckeyes responded immediately, however, using a 22-2 run over the next six minutes to push their lead back to 60-32.
Senior guard Braxtin Miller had six points and two steals to spark the run, and reserves Gabby Hutcherson and Kateri Poole also provided key baskets during the stretch.
“Gabby I thought was terrific,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “She and Kateri both I thought made the most of their minutes.”
Hutcherson finished with 12 points and Poole seven.
“Usually I was being a little more conservative with my driving (and) shooting, but especially with Dorka being out I felt like I really had to step it up and be more aggressive,” said Hutcherson, a freshman from Westerville South.
The Buckeyes’ next scheduled game, Sunday against Rutgers, was postponed because of a virus cases in the Scarlet Knights’ program. Ohio State is next scheduled to play Jan. 13 at Iowa.