The Ohio State women’s basketball spent little time lamenting the loss of their undefeated status.
The No. 2 Buckeyes (19-1) knew that dwelling on their 83-72 loss Monday to No. 10 Iowa would serve no purpose.
“The game was over when the buzzer hit,” freshman Cotie McMahon said, “so there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Other than learn from it, which the Buckeyes intend to do.
“We’ve handled success really well,” McMahon said. “But now we have to handle a loss, so this will really determine who we are as a team, at Indiana.
Thursday’s game in Bloomington against the No. 6 Hoosiers (18-1) should be at least as imposing a challenge as Iowa was. Certainly, the Buckeyes will have to do a better job containing Indiana’s star, 6-foot-3 Mackenzie Holmes, than it did Iowa’s Caitlin Clark.
Clark had 28 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds and took over the game after the Buckeyes closed to within two points at the end of the third quarter.
Led by Holmes’ 21.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, Indiana has outscored opponents by an average of 22 points and outrebounded them by six. Against Iowa, Ohio State was outrebounded 51-31. That and 4-of-25 shooting on 3-pointers doomed the Buckeyes.
“I’m not even concerned about the loss,” OSU coach Kevin McGuff said. “I was never concerned about if we were going to lose. It’s how we played. To get dominated on the boards like that, it just didn’t show the fight that we needed in a really big-time Big Ten basketball game.”
The Buckeyes have overcome the loss of star guards Madison Greene and Jacy Sheldon this season. Greene is out for the season, but McGuff said he’s hopeful Sheldon will return “before too long.”
“Certainly, we need her,” he said. “You saw that tonight we just weren’t very effective at the 3-point line or just on the perimeter.”
The Iowa game wasn’t devoid of bright spots. McMahon, who scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds, continues to blossom into a star. Taylor Thierry added 20 points and nine rebounds. McGuff said reserve forward Eboni Walker provided a boost with her post defense.
But it wasn’t enough. McGuff believes that the undefeated streak caused some complacency, referencing Alabama football coach Nick Saban’s frequent quote about praise being rat poison.
“It’s human nature, and they’re young kids,” he said. “I get that. But we have high expectations for how we play, and we weren’t there tonight.”
The Buckeyes will find out Thursday whether that was a blip or a sign of bigger issues.
“I think for the most part, we’ve handled winning fine,” McGuff said. “Now you’ve got to handle losing. It’ll show a lot about our competitive character in the coming days – how we practice and how we show up on Thursday because it’s not going to get easier in Bloomington.”
Ohio State at Indiana
When: 8:30 p.m. ThursdayTV: BTNRadio: 97.1 FM
OSU men: Poor practices paved way for loss at Illinois, XC