First Thoughts From a 77-62 Loss to Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament
By Tony Gerdeman
It's a good thing I didn't turn this game off and start writing about it when the Buckeyes were leading 24-11 with six minutes to play in the first half.
Nebraska went on a 16-0 run at that point and outscored the Buckeyes 25-6 over the last six minutes to close out the first half.
They averaged two baskets per minute in those six minutes and it was such a devastating blow that I don't believe Ohio State ever recovered.
Nebraska opened the second half strongly as well, making it 43-32 with 18:09 to play in the game. It would be the last time the game had such a slim margin.
The early start and poor finish for the Buckeyes was analogous to their effort for much of the game. There was initial effort on possessions, but it was not sustained. It was like watching a team defend on first and second down, but neglect third down altogether.
The Huskers had a little bit to do with Ohio State's performance. Nebraska started the game 2-20 from the field, but finished 24-46 (52%) from the field.
It's not that the Huskers made every shot they took after their slow start, because clearly they did not. However, they did grab an offensive rebound on half of their 40 misses, which made them even more efficient.
It looked like a game that Nebraska just wasn't going to lose. Once they gained the lead late in the first half, there was no getting it back for Ohio State. It also didn't help that the Buckeyes played with absolutely zero patience.
I just can't get over the way Ohio State played in this game. It was as if they were playing on a 15-second shot clock while everybody else was playing with the standard 30-second shot clock. Thats assuming they didn't get beaten down court on a fastbreak.
The lack of effort on defense and the lack of patience on offense is all I can really think about. It's why the game was lost. The Buckeyes just didn't seem interested enough in doing what was necessary to win.
During Nebraska coach Connie Yori's halftime interview she said, "They're just not guarding some of our kids, and those kids have to step up and make those shots when given the opportunity." They certainly stepped up, and the Buckeyes stepped out.
I do believe that Ohio State could have gotten back into the game in the second half if they would have just been more patient on offense, and blocked out on defense.
Nebraska was willing to trade baskets, which means that they were willing to give up points in order to increase the tempo. The Buckeyes obliged that tempo, but didn't do it intelligently. There were simply too many poor shots settled for, especially from deep.
It's not like the Huskers shot lights out, they just happened to rebound their misses and get second looks. That's when Ohio State's lack of effort really looked bad. Their primary defense was lacking, but their secondary defense was non-existent.
This was the first Big Ten Tournament loss that any player on this team has experienced. They had won three-consecutive tournament championships prior to losing this one.
Perhaps the unfamiliarity with this amount of struggling in this tournament took its toll and got to the Buckeyes.
We got to see quite a bit of freshman guard Raven Ferguson in this one. She scored a career-high 13 points and came away with three steals in just 19 minutes of play.
She is a very strong guard, which allowed her to drive the ball well. She can also play in the post, which is why we got to see a lot of the four-guard lineup that I thought we'd see more of this year.
Ferguson has the strength and ability to play the four position, which then moved either Kalpana Beach or Darryce Moore to center and put Ashley Adams on the bench.
Jim Foster said coming out of the second half that he wanted to get the post players more involved. Adams played eight minutes in the second half after playing twenty in the first. Rather than getting Adams involved, his solution was to go small and athletic.
The post players got a little bit more involved, but Beach and Moore still only combined for four shots in the second half. Ferguson got eight shots off, but four of those were three-point attempts.
I love Ferguson's potential because she can probably play four different positions on the court. It was good for her get to play so much of a part in this game, regardless of the outcome.
The Buckeyes' star guards certainly lacked some shining in this one. That will happen every now and again, you just don't want it to happen to both Tayler Hill and Samantha Prahalis at the same time.
Prahalis did score 23 points, but she shot 7-18 from the field to do it. She also turned the ball over eight times and failed to come up with a single steal. She was also the recipient of a technical foul after complaining about not getting a call.
Hill went 0-6 in the first half and finished 4-16 from the field with just ten points, which is less than half of her average. She and Prahalis combined to go 1-11 from three-point range.
The two of them just lacked quality shots. They both rushed shots and took ill-advised threes from a little too deep. They settled for bad looks and rarely made the extra effort to find better ones.
Nebraska was the major reason for this. They have been on a defensive tear of late, and this was another prime example.
The Buckeyes will now pack up and head back to Columbus. Then, on Monday March 12th, they will all gather at Jim Foster's home, tune into ESPN and find out where they will play in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.
Then they will get to spend the thirty minutes following the announcement answering questions from media members about past tournament failures, as if Ohio State is unique in that regard.
Only one team every year doesn't have to answer those questions. Just because the Buckeyes aren't that team doesn't mean they have failed. It just means they ran into a better team.
I think it's unfortunate that college basketball teams are too often judged by what happens in their final game, as opposed to what happened in the thirty prior to that one.
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