Ohio State was able to earn its first 3-0 start since 2017, thanks in large part, to the play of its starting five.
All five starters scored in double figures in No. 19 Ohio State’s (3-0) wire-to-wire victory over the Norse (0-4) 96-63. Sophomore forward Aaliyah Patty said that the offense did everything needed to get the win, but stressed the importance of improving on the defensive end.
“Offensively I think we shared the ball very well which is a good thing for us,” Patty said. “But if we want to win games, our defense has to be better.”
The Buckeye starting five registered 79 of their 96 points in the win — led by the talented backcourt.
Ohio State’s backcourt dominated throughout Sunday’s contest as sophomore guards Madison Greene and Jacy Sheldon carried the bulk of the scoring responsibilities in the game’s opening half. The pair combined for 30 of the Buckeyes’ 53 first-half points.
Sheldon continued her early-season tear, tying her season-high 20 points while shooting 7-of-10 from the field. The sophomore also added a season-high four assists.
Sheldon scored 11 of Ohio State’s first 13 points, helping kickstart the Buckeye offense.
“She was really locked in from the get go and she’s such a great player,” Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff said. “It was awesome to see her really kinda get us going on the offensive end.”
The Dublin, Ohio, native came into the game as Ohio State’s leading scorer — averaging 18 points per game.
Greene tied her career-high in assists with seven, while adding 17 points on 5-of-7 from the field.
Sheldon and Greene also helmed Ohio State’s fast-paced scoring attack as the Buckeyes scored more than 20 fastbreak points for the third-straight game — finishing with 23.
The Buckeyes were without senior guard Braxtin Miller — who typically provides a veteran presence on the floor. Ohio State was also without her 11 points per game and team-high 4.5 assists.
McGuff said they needed to lean on some of the veterans on the team for leadership in the senior’s absence.
“We gotta lean on Dorka and Aaliyah, for sure as upperclassmen,” McGuff said. “But, I also think Madison and Jacy can bring that as well.”
Redshirt freshman guard Rikki Harris took over in Miller’s role, finishing with 11 points — with all of her scoring coming in the second half.
Harris’ 50 percent from deep contributed to Ohio State’s efficiency from three as the Buckeyes finished 10-of-25 in that category.
While Ohio State made its threes, it also locked down the Norse from that range — holding them to just 26.9 percent from three. The Buckeyes have the top-ranked 3-point defense in the Big Ten, holding opponents to just 10.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Although the Buckeyes had one of their stronger nights from beyond the arc, it also dominated on the inside — outscoring the Norse 40-24 in the painted area.
Junior forwards Aaliyah Patty and Dorka Juhasz held firm control of the painted areas on both ends of the floor — combining for 31 points on 13-of-19 shooting.
Juhasz, who turned in double-doubles in each of Ohio State’s two opening games saw her success on the boards dwindle Sunday finishing with just five rebounds.
Leading the way for Northern Kentucky was redshirt junior guard Lindsey Duvall, who finished with 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
Ohio State returns to action Thursday against Miami (OH) at 4 p.m.
This story has been updated at 4:17 p.m. on December 6, 2020 with quotes from Kevin McGuff and Aaliyah Patty