Ohio State women's basketball season ends with loss at Rutgers

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
The Ohio State University athletic department logo, 2017. [provided by OSU]

Struck with a self-imposed postseason ban, the No. 22 Ohio State women’s basketball team’s season ended on Friday night with a 71-63 loss at Rutgers.

The Buckeyes trailed through the contest and were ailed by cold shooting as they suffered their fourth consecutive defeat.

Making only 31.7% of their shot attempts, including 26.7% from 3-point range, they equaled their season-low points total.

Guards Braxtin Miller and Jacy Sheldon were the lone Buckeyes to score in double figures, finishing with 19 and 15 points, respectively.

Starting point guard Madison Greene remained sidelined for a fifth consecutive game, an absence that has coincided with their late-season slide.

Coach Kevin McGuff told reporters earlier in the week that Greene was expected to return to the court, but his staff ultimately exercised caution in keeping her on the unavailability list.

“She was very close to being able to play,” McGuff said, “but not quite ready yet. I think that was the right move, to keep her out, to make sure we didn’t rush her back.”

Ohio State has not disclosed the reason for Greene’s continued absence, but she has been out of the lineup since a presumptive positive coronavirus test led to the cancellation of a Feb. 14 game against Northwestern.

Prior to dropping five out of their final six regular-season games, the Buckeyes had been only a game or two out of first place in the conference standings. They finished their season at 13-7 overall and 9-7 in the Big Ten.

Following Friday night’s finale, McGuff praised his team’s effort after they were behind by double-digits for a majority of the game.

Down by 15 points midway through the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes ended on a 14-7 run, outscoring the No. 24 Scarlet Knights in the final minutes rather than folding.

“It's a competitive group with good leadership, and they care about each other,” McGuff said. “I think they really like to play for each other. It says a lot about their competitive character that they would continue to fight and play really hard with nothing on the line.”

Ohio State fell behind in the early goings as Rutgers went on a 13-2 run over the final four minutes of the first quarter to build a 21-9 lead.

It was a similar 37-26 margin at halftime, and the Buckeyes were unable to seriously threaten in the second half.

Rutgers (14-3, 10-3) was led by senior guard Arella Guirantes, who finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

Guirantes is one of only three Big Ten players this season to average 20 or more points. 

The Buckeyes initially used a zone defense to try slowing down Guirantes before switching to a man-to-man, matching up Miller against her.

It helped hold Guirantes to 7-of-19 shooting, including 1 of 5 from beyond the arc.

“I thought Braxtin did a really good job on Arella,” McGuff said. “She really competed hard to make her earn everything that she got.”

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman