LAS VEGAS (WCMH) — Ohio State women’s basketball went 19-0 to start the 2022-23 season. They will not be undefeated at any point in 2023-24 after being upset in the first game.
The seventh-ranked Buckeyes lost its season opener to No. 21 USC 83-74 in Las Vegas in a game where Ohio State came back from a 19-point deficit. The Trojans ended the first half up by 18 after outscoring the Buckeyes by 22. OSU overcame that deficit in the third quarter before the Trojans stormed back for the upset victory.
USC was led by first-year guard JuJu Watkins, the No. 1 rated recruit in the 2023 class. She impressed in her collegiate debut and took over the game when on the floor with 32 points, and five assists while shooting 90% from the free throw line. The Trojans also dominated on the glass, outrebounding the Buckeyes 43-28.
Graduate senior guard Jacy Sheldon led the Buckeyes in the opener and was instrumental in the third-quarter comeback. She ended the game with a team-leading 28 points and five steals. Taylor Thierry was the only other double-digit scorer for OSU with 16 points and eight rebounds.
The Buckeyes began the game strong from three-point range with a trio of threes in the first five minutes, including two from Sheldon. The Dublin native ended the first quarter with eight of Ohio State’s 18 points.
USC rolled through the second quarter with an emphatic 31-10 run. Watkins scored 16 points and was perfect from the free throw line in her first half as a Trojan. The Buckeyes erased that huge deficit in the third quarter and were up by two heading into the fourth, anchored by Sheldon’s 12 third-quarter points and 10 from Thierry.
Watkins took over the game in the fourth quarter with clutch lay-ups and assists in an impressive debut that puts USC on the map for the remainder of the season. The win will raise USC in next Monday’s first in-season Associated Press poll while potentially dropping the Buckeyes out of the top ten.
Ohio State will play its home opener on Sunday at 1 p.m. against Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. USC returns to California to host Florida Gulf Coast on Friday.