A nightmare performance by the Ohio State women’s basketball team has ended its hopes of a Big Ten tournament title. The Buckeyes shot just 35 percent from the floor in the game as they fell to Purdue 71-60 in the conference tourney quarterfinals in Indianapolis.
Ohio State, the tournament’s top seed which averages 88 points a game and throttled Northwestern by 31 on Friday, managed a paltry 20 points combined in the second and third quarters, as the Boilermakers won for the third time in the three days to advance to the championship game on Sunday.
Kelsey Mitchell, the Big Ten’s leading scorer and Player of the Year, was not at all herself, scoring just nine points on a dismal 3-for-22 from the field, 1-for-12 from three-point range. She didn’t get much help from her teammates either, as the Buckeyes shot just 13 percent from long range for the game.
Shayla Cooper had 18 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists in the loss, while Linnae Harper added 12 points of her own.
Purdue was led by senior Ashley Morrissette, who scored 24 points and dished out seven assists. Freshman Dominique Oden was also a huge factor, scoring 20 points that included four makes from three-point range.
As is usually the case for Ohio State, the beginning of this one had a fast pace. Mitchell hit her first attempt from three and McCoy got two early buckets down low, but Purdue matched the production, getting four points from Morrissette and staying even at 9-9 after four the first minutes.
But the Boilers were able to slow things down to a more comfortable pace and the Buckeyes went through a cold streak, failing to score for two and a half minutes. Purdue used that drought to pull ahead 13-9, but Harper hit a jumper and then came up with a steal, feeding Cooper on the break for a layup to tie things up again.
The Boilermakers wore out a path to the free throw line, going 8-for-8 in the first quarter, and Mitchell didn’t manage to make another shot, but Ohio State shot better than 52 percent to take a 22-20 lead after ten minutes.
The second frame was downright ugly. Purdue had ball security issues, turning it over twice in the first two minutes, and also had three quick fouls. The Buckeyes couldn’t take advantage, though, missing their first three shots from the floor and turning it over twice themselves, and a Bridget Perry and-one put the Boilers back on top 23-22.
Ohio State again had a cold spell, missing five straight shots, and Morrissette scored five in a row, giving Purdue a 28-25 lead at the midway point of the period. The two sides combined to hit just four of their first 23 shots in the frame.
Makayla Waterman hit a foul line jumper, the Buckeyes’ first made field goal in over four minutes, Morrissette committed the Boilermakers’ sixth miscue of the quarter, and Mitchell hit a pair of free throws as the lead see-sawed back to Ohio State 29-28. The free throws were the first two points Mitchell had scored since her first shot attempt of the game.
Dominique Oden knocked down a pair of triples to cap an 8-2 run for Purdue, propelling the Boilers to a 36-31 lead at the half.
Mitchell scored just seven points on 2-for-12 shooting heading into the half, but still led the Buckeyes. Cooper added six points, five rebounds, and three assists. Morrissette led all scorers with 14 points and also dished out six assists, while Oden’s late surge gave her 11.
The halftime break did nothing to cool Oden off, as she stuck her fourth three-pointer of the game on Purdue’s first possession. Ohio State turned it over the first two times it had the ball, and a Morrissette transition layup gave the Boilermakers their largest lead of the game at 41-31, promoting a Buckeye timeout.
Ohio State failed to score for the third period’s first five full minutes, missing its first nine shots from the floor, but after its early flourish, Purdue went three scoreless themselves. That ended when Lamina Cooper knocked down a corner three to push the Boiler advantage to 44-31.
The Buckeyes first made field goal came on a Harper floater with just three and a half minutes remaining in the frame, and a 6-0 run pulled them back to within 49-40. But they just couldn’t contain Oden, whose pair of layups sent Purdue to the final ten minutes with a 53-43 lead.
Ohio State got layups from Asia Doss and Waterman to start the fourth, prompting a timeout by the Boilermakers, up 55-46. A steal by Doss led to a Mitchell layup, her first points of the second half. Doss then split a pair of free throws and Mitchell got fouled after a steal, but uncharacteristically missed both at the line, and the deficit stood at 56-49.
The Boilers went without a field goal for more than five minutes, and the Buckeyes pulled to within five on a Cooper jumper and a Harper layup, 58-53. But a Perry layup and an out of control turnover on a drive by Mitchell allowed Purdue to push things back out to nine points with just over three minutes to go.
Cooper answered with an and-one, but a Morrissette layup with just under two minutes to play extended the lead back to double digits, and Ohio State simply ran out of time, hitting on only two of its final 11 shots.
Ohio State will now have to wait until Monday, March 13th, to find out its NCAA tournament fate.