2014-15 Season In Review
The 2014-15 Ohio State women's basketball season "literally" had it all. There was good. There was bad. There was elation. There was heartbreak. There was uncertainty. There was promise. But the way the season ended, it left everyone wanting more.
The year started with the bad right out of the gate. In a three-week span in October, three players went down with ACL injuries. Freshmen Makayla Waterman, Chelsea Mitchell and Kianna Holland were all lost before the season even started. That left the team with a great deal of uncertainty. How are you going to manage with just seven players? What happens when you get tired? What if three players foul out? All valid questions that clouded the start of what looked to be a promising year.
That led to one of the more remarkable moments of the season in the bringing back of Amy Scullion. Scullion had originally decided to forgo her final season of eligibility as she enrolled in med school at Ohio State. But her selflessness kicked in when she saw her teammates in need. Amy rejoining the team showed the rest of the group what playing for your teammates really meant.
The first few games of the season were indicative of a team with three freshmen starters and just four players on the roster with collegiate game experience. The Thanksgiving trip to the Virgin Islands was not only a welcome get-away from the impending Ohio winter, but it was also a great indicator of the year to come. Coach McGuff would be lying to you if he said he wasn't a bit worried about how his short-handed team would respond to three games in three days. The opening win over a very game Clemson squad showed the team had what it took to win a close game down the stretch. The Wichita State game showed the team that it had to be locked in every game or it doesn't' matter how talented you are. Then the double-overtime win over a Florida Gulf Coast team that would lose just three games all season showed not only the team's fight, but that it can win any game no matter the circumstances.
Those games in paradise led to a very solid end to the 2014 calendar year which featured a stretch of four-straight games against ranked teams. The Buckeyes won three of those games, including blowouts of West Virginia and Rutgers. Those wins would go in the "good" category.
The first half of the Big Ten season was a bit up and down. Scoring 103 three points in a route of the Hoosiers in Bloomington was followed by allowing 100 points to that team up north in an overtime loss. After falling behind by 20 points on the road at Iowa in early February, the Bucks rallied to make it close down the stretch. That comeback, coupled with erasing a 13-point deficit over the final nine minutes in a 77-73 win over the Wolverines seemed to give the team life heading into the final regular season push. But a trip to Champaigne on Valentine's Day turned-up no love and resulted in a 66-55 setback. That was the bad.
Something clicked after that loss however as the team rolled to a 92-60 win over Purdue and then played perhaps its best game of the year in a 100-82 victory over Iowa in the final home game of the year. Those wins were the start of a six-game win-streak that propelled the Bucks into the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game against top-seeded Maryland. Facing another double-digit deficit in the second half, the team rallied and had chances to secure its first Big Ten Tournament title since 2012. The eventual three-point loss to the Terps only fueled the team's drive towards the NCAA Tournament.
Making its first tournament appearance since 2012, the Buckeyes knocked-off CAA Champion James Madison in the opening round and that sent the team into a matchup with North Carolina with tons of confidence. Facing the Heels on their home court, the Bucks fell behind by 23 points in the first half. But like it had all season, the team refused to give in and fought all the way back to tie the game. At this point, we all know that UNC's final shot at the buzzer would go in and the season ended way too abruptly. That game featured the bad (first half), the good (the comeback), the elation (game-tying three-pointer) and the heart-break (the end).
While the initial shock was hard to handle at first, everyone left the locker room that night in Chapel Hill knowing that this team went through something special this season. It set the building blocks for what could be an exciting run. The only member of the team not returning next season is Dr. Scullion but her impact this year will undoubtedly leave a mark on everyone for years to come.