This was not how it was supposed to end. The Ohio State Buckeyes played their Second Round NCAA Tournament game at St. John Arena, and, if they could pull together a few more wins, would get home-city advantage at the Women’s Final Four, which takes place just down the road from campus at Nationwide Arena.
But then the Central Michigan Chippewas happened.
CMU, who pulled together a 12-for-23 mark from behind the arc over just the first three quarters, toppled the Buckeyes, 95-78. The Chippewas were the No. 11-seed in the Spokane Region, while OSU was the No.3-seed.
With the loss, the Buckeye career for Kelsey Mitchell is now over. Since arriving in Columbus, Mitchell has become the most decorated basketball player in Ohio State history, while also becoming a legend in the NCAA. In this game, she became the second-leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball history, eclipsing the 3,393 mark by Jackie Stiles. Mitchell ends her career with 3,402 points.
Mitchell ended the game against CMU with a team-leading 28 points, going 6-of-16 from beyond the arc. Sierra Calhoun was the only other Buckeye to make more than one three point attempt; she went 3-of-8 from three-range, ending the game with nine points. Stephanie Mavunga, who also played in her last game as a Buckeye, ended with a double double effort. She had 16 points (the second most on the team) and a team-leading 15 rebounds.
The Chippewas’ Cassie Breen led the three-point barrage, connecting on 5-of-9 shots from downtown; she ended the game with 22 points. Tinara Moore put up 20 points, and Presley Hudson led the team with 28 points, going 4-of-9 from three range and 10-10 from the free throw line.
Speaking of free throws, the Chippewas went 25-of-27 as a team against OSU. In comparison, the Buckeyes went 9-of-14 from the charity stripe. From beyond the arc, CMU ended the game with a 14-of-27 effort (51.9%). Ohio State, who struggled to hit the three early, ended the Second Round contest with an 11-of-29 mark (37.9%) from downtown.
Here’s how this one went down.
The Buckeyes won the opening tip from the Chippewas. However, on the first shot of the game from Kelsey Mitchell, she was blocked by Reyna Frost. Fortunately, Stephanie Mavunga was there for the rebound—and got the first points of the game courtesy of a layup.
CMU’s Micaela Kelly and OSU’s Mitchell traded baskets, before both teams missed a combined three shots. Presley Hudson broke up the slump by hitting a three-pointer, giving the 11th-seeded Chippewas an early 5-4 lead with 7:52 remaining in the first quarter.
Ohio State would answer back, as Mavunga knocked down her second shot; shortly after that, Linnae Harper and Sierra Calhoun connected on three-pointers. All this was part of an 8-0 Buckeye run that surged them back into the lead, 12-5, with three minutes left in the quarter.
Three-pointers came at a premium for CMU. Cassie Breen, the Chippewas leader in three-pointers, missed on a couple deep balls. As they were missing from beyond the arc, OSU went back to the longshot—connecting again. This time around, Mitchell popped a three from in front of the CMU bench, pushing the lead to 10.
In the first quarter, CMU went 1-of-6 from three range. Even when there were decent looks from downtown, they passed up the shot for something closer. Tinara Moore had a quality look from dead-center, but elected to fight for a layup—one that was missed. By the time the first frame ended, though, the visiting Chippewas were down six, 15-9.
But, just two minutes into the second quarter, CMU found their shot. Hudson made a jumper, and Kelly made a three to cut the OSU lead to two, 16-14. Second chance opportunities were created for the 11-seed by fighting underneath the basket for rebounds, and hustling for loose balls. Things also weren’t going the Buckeyes’ way. OSU missed their first five shots of the quarter, and only scored one point via a Makayla Waterman free throw at the 9:43 mark. After Mitchell missed a contested layup, Frost rebounded the ball, and passed it to Hudson in transition. Hudson’s layup rattled around the rim before dropping, giving the Chippewas the lead, 18-16, before a timeout was taken. This second quarter surge from CMU was all part of a 13-1 run.
Back from the break, 6:39 was left in the half—and the Buckeyes needed to make some shots to regain their lead on home court. However, that didn’t happen immediately after; Mavunga and Mitchell missed layups, and Mitchell couldn’t connect on a three. Breen pushed the run out 18-1, scoring five straight points; two of them from a jumper, and three of them from the free throw line.
Mitchell finally ended the CMU run with a jumper, bringing the Buckeyes within seven, 25-18. It took nearly nine minutes for the Buckeyes to make a shot—but they at least were able to carve into the deficit. Mavunga scored via the free throw line, and Mitchell again made a shot (this one a layup) following a Mavunga block on the other end of the floor. The deficit was down to four—but not for long. Breen, CMU’s all-time three point shooter, went back to the wheelhouse, connecting on back-to-back threes from both wings. Now it was the Chippewas that had a 10-point lead, 31-21.
Two moving screens called against OSU gave the upset-minded Chippewas more chances to score in the waning minutes. After the first foul, Hudson pulled up from downtown and connected; after the second foul, though, a clock malfunction occurred—halting play for a few minutes. Once that was solved, CMU fired off a shot as the clock and shot clock were in the single digits. That shot didn’t fall, and took us to halftime, with the Chippewas up, 34-21.
Out of the gate in the third quarter, both teams missed their first shot. However, things quickly picked up. OSU made a pair of layups courtesy of Harper and Mavunga; CMU made three-pointers courtesy of Moore and Kelly. Moore, would then hit another wide open three from the wing. If there was an upset alert alarm, it was certainly being triggered. The Chippewas had a 47-25 lead with a little under seven minutes remaining in the third frame.
Needing momentum, Mitchell cranked a three from way out. It hit nothing but net, and the Buckeyes quickly went into a press defense. CMU’s rapid ball movement, though, avoided the turnover and picked up a controversial layup, as contact occurred under the basket—leading to a member of the Buckeyes going down to the floor.
After the TV timeout at the 4:36 mark, both teams picked up the pace. Breen hit another three, but was rebutalled by Asia Doss. But after Breen, CMU still continued their shooting clinic inside St. John Arena. Entering the final quarter, OSU was down an eye-opening 21 points, 67-46.
With 10 minutes left to make a comeback, OSU cut into the lead. Both teams traded baskets in the early going, but a 5-0 OSU run midway through the quarter made it a 15-point game, 76-61. The Buckeyes got within 15, but CMU battled inside for points—stifling any chance of a Scarlet and Gray comeback.