Aggressive Ohio State awaits bigger test against Duke in March Madness second round

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State used its aggressive defense to frustrate and eventually overwhelm Maine in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The second-seeded Buckeyes face a more difficult challenge Sunday against Duke, but the plan remains the same.

“Our press is always a key for our team,” Ohio State’s Taylor Thierry said. “I think that’s a weapon that we kind of use against a lot of teams that we face.”

Ohio State forced 19 turnovers in its 80-57 victory over Maine. No. 7 seed Duke (21-11) is expecting that same sort of pressure when the schools play for a spot in the Sweet 16.

“They force a lot of turnovers, and then they’re able to convert,” Duke coach Kara Lawson said Saturday. “Their conversion rate is really high in terms of when they force them, to be able to get scores out of it. Obviously, everybody that plays them says we’ve got to put a premium on taking care of the ball.”

The Blue Devils got off to a slow start against No. 10 seed Richmond on Friday, but they outscored the Spiders 44-24 in the second half of a 72-61 victory.

They are looking for a much better beginning against the Buckeyes (26-5).

“I think we just have to go out there, throw the first punch really,” said Duke guard Jadyn Donovan, who had eight points and eight rebounds against Richmond. “The size advantage is really helpful. Coach Kara has told us they’re equally athletic as us, so using every advantage we can against them I think is definitely something we should capitalize on.”

Duke’s size could present an issue for Ohio State. The Blue Devils have four players who are 6-foot-3 or taller, and they are among the NCAA leaders in blocked shots.

“(Duke) did a great job on the offensive glass (Friday), so I think our ability to block them out will be huge,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “We’ve got to be really physical and pursue the ball with five people. I think that’ll be huge.”


Ohio State upset UConn in a Sweet 16 game in last year’s tournament, but lost to No. 1 seed Virginia Tech in the next round. The Buckeyes have been to the tournament 28 times. Duke is making its 26th appearance and has won at least one game every time.

However, before Friday, only four current Blue Devils players had experienced a tournament game. The Ohio State roster is packed with players who were there for last season’s journey.

“With experience comes wisdom, and they’ve been in these battles before,” Lawson said of the Buckeyes. “They’ve been in tournament runs before, deep tournament runs before. That I think is what stands out about their team is just they have a lot of players that have played a lot of college basketball and won a lot of big games.”


Ohio State’s undisputed leader is Jacy Sheldon, who averages 18 points per game. The fifth-year point guard, who eclipsed the career 2,000-point mark on Friday, will be playing her final game at Value City Arena.

“We could talk for hours about what she’s meant for this program,” McGuff said. “Just the way she’s played on the court and everyone sees that, just the effort, the energy, the leadership. But probably more importantly, just how she’s represented herself and our program off the court and in the community has been really special.”


Ohio State’s Celeste Taylor played for Duke for two seasons. No big deal, says everyone involved.

“Obviously, Celeste played for Duke, and we’re all very excited to play Celeste and Ohio State,” Donovan said. “No is one really ‘Celeste, Celeste, Celeste.’ It’s more we want to get to the Sweet 16 and beat Ohio State.”


AP March Madness bracket: and coverage:

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up