Ohio State women's basketball still has some work to do to claim its first Big Ten regular season title since 2010 after coming up short, 90-88, in an overtime thriller on the road against Minnesota.
A jumper at the edge of the lane by the Gophers' Carlie Wagner with less than a second left in overtime propelled the home side to a thrilling victory on Senior Night in Williams Arena.
The thrilling ending to this game only came after the Buckeyes miraculously tied the game 78-78 with 0.5 seconds remaining in regulation on an inbounds lob pass from senior Ameryst Alston to sophomore Alexa Hart.
Wagner scored 26 points, including eight in the overtime for Minnesota. The Big Ten's leading scorer, senior Rachel Banham, led all scorers with 35 after having only 12 at halftime.
Ohio State was led by junior Shayla Cooper's 25 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore Kelsey Mitchell, the second-leading scorer in the conference behind Banham, had 21 points, but had a subpar shooting night. The Cincinnati native made just 6-for-24 from the field, including 3-for-14 from the three-point line.
Ohio State entered The Barn on an 11-game winning streak, but suffered its second loss in Big Ten play. Minnesota, conversely, had lost two straight, and improved to 11-6 in the conference.
The Buckeyes and Gophers both entered the game among the top five scoring teams in the country, and the tandems of Ohio State's Mitchell (24.6 ppg) and Alston (19.5) and Minnesota's Banham (27.5) and Wagner (19.1) represent the top two scoring duos nationwide.
In a game hyped as a shootout, this one started out offensive in a different meaning of the word.
It took the Buckeyes two and a half minutes to get their first points, but the Gophers weren't much better as the team's started 2-for-11 and 3-for-11 from the floor respectively. By the midpoint in the first quarter, the score was just 6-5 in favor of Minnesota.
Mitchell made the first three-pointer of the game for either side just under the five minute mark, and Hart was doing work in the paint. Hart scored a quarter-high nine points and grabbed seven rebounds, as the shooting struggles for both teams continued. Ohio State led 14-9 after one.
Minnesota shot just 14.8 percent from the floor (4-for-27), with Banham limited to just five points on 2-for-6 shooting and Wagner going scoreless on six shots. The brick party led to 35 total rebounds in the opening frame.
Hart, who led the way with 11 points and nine boards in the first half, picked up her second foul early in the second quarter and had to go to the bench, but Cooper scored eight points and pulled down seven rebounds and redshirt freshman Makayla Waterman scored four points with three rebounds to hold down the fort in her absence.
Banham scored four straight points and sophomore Jessie Edwards got a bucket to pull the Gophers back even, 28-28 with just under three minutes remaining in the half.
The Buckeyes finished the quarter on a 6-0 run to head to the locker room with a 34-30 lead. Ohio State shot 35 percent from the floor, but a dismal 1-for-11 from beyond the arc. Minnesota shot 25.5 percent, but made 4-for-14 from deep.
Mitchell and Alston combined for just nine points, going 3-for-17 from the floor, while Banham and Wagner had 18 on 6-for-23 shooting.
The Buckeyes started the second half with a 7-3 run. Hart picked up where she left off, grabbing an offensive rebound and putting it back. After a Cooper jumper and the first two three-point makes of the game by Alston, the Gophers were forced to call a timeout trailing 41-33.
Minnesota answered with a 10-1 run of their own thanks to three-pointers by Shayne Mullaney and Banham, as Mitchell continued to struggle. The Cincinnati native missed twice more from long distance, plunging her total to 1-for-12 from the floor and 1-for-8 from deep.
Banham, who scored 12 points in the first half, got loose in the final 20 minutes, scoring 19 points in a variety of ways. She finished regulation with a game-high 31.
The onslaught from the Big Ten's all-time leading scorer continued in the fourth, as the senior scored six of her team's first eight points, but Ohio State refused to go away, tying things up at 61 on a jumper by Mitchell with seven minutes to go.
Things got interesting from there, as the two sides went back and forth trading the lead. Mitchell, Cooper, and Alston were the only Ohio State players to score through the first 9:44 of the quarter. A Wagner three with just over a minute remaining put the Gophers up 76-74.
Sophomore Asia Doss got a clutch steal and layup, her first field goal of the game, with 16 seconds left to tie things up, but a put-back by Minnesota sophomore Jessie Edwards with less than a second remaining gave the Gophers the lead.
Things looked dire. But the lob to Hart was banked in as time expired and the game went to overtime.
In OT, only Alston, Cooper, Mitchell, Banham, and Wagner scored in a game that seemed it would break for whichever side had the ball last. That happened to be Minnesota, who got the win in their final home game of the regular season.
Ohio State will play its final regular season game on Saturday against No. 20 Michigan State in East Lansing. The game tips off at 2:00 p.m. ET and will air live on Big Ten Network.