Around the Oval on Friday, Feb. 22

By Grant Miller on February 22, 2013 at 12:00p
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Around the Oval is Eleven Warriors' weekly love letter to Ohio State sports that don't get the coverage they should.

In their only contest of the week, the Ohio State women's basketball faced the Minnesota Golden Gophers last night at the Schott.

"Ferguson stole the ball!"Feed the (other) Raven

Like the Gophers, the Buckeyes found themselves in the bottom half of the Big Ten standings, but were at least coming off of three wins in their last four. The two teams' relative proximity in conference position was obvious as they sparred evenly through the first ten minutes, with neither team holding a lead greater than two points. But Rachel Banham extended Minnesota's lead to three, and they were then able to extend their advantage to eight and nine points before some consistent Tayler Hill scoring cut the lead to six at halftime.

But the Gophers made sure to keep their edge into the second half despite the Buckeyes' best efforts. Key rebounds from Darryce Moore and more clutch shooting from Hill finally got the Buckeyes within touching distance at 35-33, and then her layup tied the game for the first time since 8-8. 

Credit to Minnesota though, as an 8-0 run retained their comfortable advantage. And although it never went below five, the Buckeyes knew they had a late renaissance in them. Some sensational solo play from Hill got them to within two with 4:04 to go, and the visitors were then restricted to four free throws in the final minutes.

Down by five with 1:06 to play, the Buckeyes looked to Hill for a three-pointer but her attempt missed. But Minnesota shot themselves in the foot by making two crucial turnovers in the next few sequences. The first resulted in Ohio State's Raven Ferguson hitting a three-pointer, and after a timeout Ferguson was at it again, this time getting the steal herself and sinking her second straight three to give the Buckeyes a 56-55 lead. Their last lead came when the score was 6-4, and this one looked to be crucial.

But the ladies from Minneapolis must not have read the script. On the ensuing inbound, Banham dribbled down the court under pressure, and somehow found a way to spin and throw up a shot that sank perfectly through the mesh with only .4 seconds remaining. Even Tayler Hill couldn't get the final shot off in time, and the Buckeyes' miraculous late comeback had come to nothing as they fell, 57-56

Hill led the way again with 25 points, and was a school-record 14 for 14 from the free throw line. Her scoring exploits moved her into a tie for fifth place on the all-time scoring list with Tracey Hall. Amber Stokes also had 10 points and Ashley Adams led the Buckeyes in rebounds with five. 

The Lady Buckeyes are now 14-12 and 4-9 in conference play. They're back in action on Monday at home to Michigan State, with the game set to start at 6:30 p.m. After that they travel to Champaign on Thursday for their final away trip of the season against Illinois. The game's start time is 8:00 p.m.

Men's Hockey

While there has been somewhat of a recession in Mattaritaville, things are much different in Osieckitown. The Ohio State men's hockey team continued its late season surge with another four-point weekend, this time against No. 6 Western Michigan.

A couple of low-scoring games were expected leading into the weekend as both teams entered ranked in the top ten nationally in team defense. Friday night's encounter began very much according to script, as the two squads battled through a scoreless first period highlighted by only 16 shots.

But it didn't take too long for things to get going offensively in the second period, as Ohio State's Max McCormick fired a shot wide, only for freshman Tyler Lundey to poke the puck in just by the post and hand the Scarlet & Gray the lead. It lasted only about eight minutes, the Broncos drawing level off a wrist shot from the point by Matt Stewart.

From then on it was a goalie exhibition, with both netminders on show flashing their Hobey Baker credentials. But it was arguably Hjelle who shined brighter; his 30 saves topped his opposite number Slubowski's 18. Over a third of Hjelle's saves came in the final period, when the Buckeyes were outshot, 13-3. Behind their talismanic goalie Ohio State claimed a point after a 1-1 tie. Hjelle's heroics didn't extend to the shootout though, as the Broncos converted twice to gain the extra point.

A hat and a hat trick 

The slow start to Friday's game was rendered a thing of the past once Alex Szczechura scored the game's first goal less than two minutes into the game on Saturday. Western Michigan's response was swift and clinical: first a tying goal three minutes later courtesy of Justin Kovacs, and another seven minutes before intermission from David Killip.

Ohio State faced a reality check — they had to step up their offensive play from the night before if they were going to continue their point streak. And they did exactly that.

Just like against Notre Dame two weeks before, it was an incredible second period which set up a Buckeye victory. Tanner Fritz tied the game before the Broncos took another lead, but after that it was all Ohio State. Szczechura scored once again, this time on the power play, and his goal was followed by markers from Max McCormick and Darik Angeli.

Then in the third period Ohio State's player of the game got his hat trick when Szczechura joined a rush late to fire past Slubowski and to seal the 6-3 victory. Szczechura also had an assist for a four-point night overall, and Tanner Fritz also had four with a goal and three assists. The game marked the third time in four weeks that the Buckeyes have scored six, with each performance coming at home.

After winning only one game in 10, the Buckeyes have taken points in seven of eight games. The team is now 12-7-5-1 in the CCHA and tied for fourth with Ferris State, though the Buckeyes have four more games left to the Bulldogs' two. Third place Notre Dame isn't out of reach either, only five points ahead of the Scarlet & Gray.

Yet another huge weekend awaits, as the Buckeyes host Michigan for their last two home games of the regular season, hoping to inch closer to first-round home ice in the conference tournament. Puck drop on Friday is 6:35 p.m. while Saturday's game is set to start at 7:05 p.m.

Men's Lacrosse

The Ohio State men's lacrosse team improved their record to 2-0 on Saturday after defeating Jacksonville in the Moe's Southwest Grill Classic.

It was the Buckeyes who took the early lead through sophomore Jesse King, but the Dolphins quickly turned the tables with two goals in only 66 seconds. With just over four minutes to go in the quarter, though, Ohio State got back in the contest with a goal from senior Dominique Alexander. After that the Scarlet & Gray finished the opening period strongly, scoring twice more to lead, 4-2, after one. 

There was still more resilience from the Dolphins, their two goals to begin the second quarter tying the game once again. Senior Logan Schuss scored for the Buckeyes before the quarter's end, for a 5-4 lead at halftime.

When Alexander's second was followed by another King goal, Ohio State's win was just about secure. Another goal for each side wrapped up the contest, a 9-6 victory for the Buckeyes. Ohio State is looking good early on, but head coach Nick Myers knows there's still a lot to be done.

"We have to continue to grow up on the offensive end of the field," Myers said. "We gave up some early goals and then really played well in the second half. That's something we can build off of for sure."

Senior captain Schuss was named ECAC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts. Schuss has 13 points in his team's first two games including two goals against Jacksonville, and the attackman has led the team in scoring during the past three seasons.

The Buckeyes will host Marquette on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Tickets to the game are sold out. 

Women's Gymnastics

It was a good weekend for the Ohio State women's gymnastics team, who beat Michigan State, 195.575-194.250, in East Lansing.

There were Buckeyes in the top three of bars segment, with Maddie Herr and Rachel Abrams tying for third, Melanie Shaffer placing in second and Aly Marohn leading the way with a score of 9.875 to win the event for herself and her team. 

They came up short in the vault though, as the Spartans outperformed them, 49.025-48.750. After that it was the floor, and Ohio State regained the upper hand by winning 49.025-48.750, led by Shaffer who won the event and Alex DeLuca who came in second. 

Sarah Miller then took the event title for the beam, with the Spartans taking the event overall. In the all-around, it was Marohn finishing first yet again, this time in a tie, with Shaffer in third. The meet was Ohio State's third win of the season, and they will face Illinois at St. John Arena on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. 

Bands

There are a couple of performances happening this week in Buckeye musicland:

  • On Tuesday, the Collegiate Winds will be performing at Weigel Hall Auditorium at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 for the general public and free for students.
  • Then on Thursday, the University Band will be performing at the same time and place. Ticket prices are also the same. 
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