Short-Handed Buckeyes Grit Out Win over FAU, 91-88
By John Porentas
It turns out that hockey is not the only game where you can gain an advantage by having more players in the game.
Injuries, illnesses and transfers reduced the Buckeyes (2-0) to just seven players on the roster headed into their game with Florida Atlantic (0-2). It turned out to be a bad game in which to be short-handed.
The Owls have little to no height on their roster, but what they lack in size they make up for with a pressure style of basketball designed to wear out the opposition.
"It's part of our strategy in every game we go into," said FAU Head Coach Kellie Lewis-Jay.
"We use our whole bench all the time. We've got to go deep into our bench, we've got to bring full court effort 40 minutes a game."
The Owls did just that. Ten players saw significant minutes, and they almost pulled off the win because of it.
Photo by Jim Davidson
With OSU guards Cait Craft and Ameryst Alston doing much of the damage the Buckeyes got off to a very fast start, quickly building a 23-point lead in just over seven minutes at 29-6. It looked for the world like it would be a blowout, but that's when the manpower advantage started to kick in for FAU.
The Owls rallied the rest of the half to cut the lead to just 11 at 52-11 the intermission. Along the way they forced 11 OSU turnovers.
The second half was almost a mirror image of the first. OSU re-established a 20 point lead at 78-58 over the first twelve minutes of the half, but then the numbers reality started to come into play.
"We definitely got tired," said OSU Head Coach Kevin McGuff.
"I guess what I would tell you is I think we let it affect us too much. We got tired because our players play hard, they really play hard. It's not like I would want to tell them to quit really playing hard so you don't get tired. I'm always going to be on them about playing hard. We've got to push through. I understand it. We're going to tired. I just have really high expectations for them, because they're good, really good, It is reality that you can get a little tired and it can affect you."
Craft finished the game with a game-high 29 points. Ameryst wasn't far behind with 28, and those two were the targets for FAU's wear-down strategy.
"You look at 13 (Craft) and 14 (Alston) for them, they a heck of game, both of them. We knew we were going to have to try and wear those two down and they played hard.," said Lewis-Jay
Photo by Jim Davidson
Craft and Alston each finished with five turnovers, but when the chips were down, both came up with the plays the Buckeyes needed. Alston scored OSU's last points by making two clutch free throws with 13 seconds on the clock to give OSU a three point lead. Craft came up with a defensive gem forcing a turnover with just five seconds left to play.
"They're solid players, they gave everything they had and they made plays when they needed to," said an impressed Lewis-Jay.
The win left OSU with an early-season unblemished record. It also gave McGuff a little insight into what kind of team he has this year.
"Through two games I really like the toughness and resolve of the team,' he said.
"We beat a good West Virginia team on the road and with a quick turnaround and just seven players playing we found a way to win against a really dangerous FAU team, so our players are engaged and they're playing hard. Any good team, sometime it's about finding a way. Today we did that."