Ohio State Buckeyes women’s basketball came into the NCAA Sweet Sixteen the underdog for the second straight game. This time, against the No. 2 seed Texas Longhorns. The Scarlet & Gray traveled home from Baton Rouge, Louisiana late Monday night, after beating the LSU Tigers. On Wednesday, they flew to Tacoma, Washington. Friday, the Buckeyes went down double digits in the fourth quarter, fought back to within two, but fell to Texas 66-63.
The first quarter began with strong shooting by both sides. Ohio State hit four of their first nine shots, but it was inside the paint that gave the Longhorns an early advantage. The Buckeyes sent Texas to the line twice, hitting all four free throws.
Entering Friday’s game, it was Texas’ defense that was a potential problem for Ohio State. Early in the game though, it was the Buckeyes frustrating the Longhorns. Dynamic Big 12 Freshman of the Year guard Rori Harmon suffered two fouls.
The first came from guard Rikki Harris forcing a half-court charging call. Buckeye guard Jacy Sheldon forced a blocking foul, on a layup, two minutes later. That benching, and five first-quarter turnovers by the Longhorns. It ended up being the Buckeyes' defense forcing issues for Texas.
With Harmon off the court, the Buckeyes went on an 11-0 run, after going down five in the first five minutes of the quarter. Ohio State’s recovery put them up four in going into the second quarter.
Starting the second quarter, the Scarlet & Gray took advantage of Harmon off the court to give Sheldon rest. Unfortunately for Ohio State, on the court the Longhorns took the lead. Harmon’s substitute, guard Aliyah Matharu hit a three, stole a poor inbound pass, and added a fastbreak layup.
Kateri Poole, who came in for Sheldon, had two quick fouls and Sheldon returned with little over one minute of rest. In that span, Texas had a five-point run. With Sheldon’s return came the return of the Buckeyes' lead. Ohio State scored 10 of the next 14 points and forced three more turnovers going into a media timeout.
Texas head coach Vic Schaefer still kept his freshman phenom Harmon on the bench. A reason was the play of Joanne Allen-Taylor. The senior guard led all scoring with 12 points, two assists and two steals.
Offensively, Ohio State went cold. In the last 4:02 of the second quarter, the Buckeyes missed five field goals and one three. The Scarlet & Gray ended the half down two, 32-30.
Starting the second half, the Buckeye’s shooting, and Harmon, returned to the court. Ohio State went back up by two, but it didn’t last long. Texas scored nine of the next 11, thanks to help from the Scarlet & Gray.
Of those 11, four came off Ohio State turnovers. Even though the Buckeyes had only two, the Longhorns capitalized on both, forcing an early quarter timeout by head coach Kevin McGuff.
The Buckeyes also got into foul trouble. After screens helped give Ohio State space in the first half, forward Rebeka Mikulasikova received two quick fouls on illegal screens. It took Ohio State out of any momentum and gave Texas more possessions.
Down 44-36 in the third quarter, the Buckeyes came out of a timeout with a burst of energy. A burst that turned into points. Ohio State scored seven unanswered points, but once again Texas came back.
After pulling to within one, the Scarlet & Gray committed two more turnovers and missed their last four shots of the quarter. To keep their season going, Ohio State needed to come back from a 45-50 deficit with 10 minutes remaining in their season.
In the final quarter, the Buckeyes were up on the Longhorns in points in the paint, something not normal for Ohio State. Texas began to attack it. Texas hit 4-of-5 to start the quarter. Ohio State guard Taylor Mikesell hit her second three of the night, but the Longhorns extended their lead to eight.
Texas went on another run, this time six points, and went up 10 points. With the game looking like it was getting out of reach, enter Sheldon. The junior guard attacked the basket and made the bonus shot on the foul. Then, the Buckeyes forced two turnovers.
On one, forward Tanaya Beacham hit her third three of the season. That was followed by a midrange jumper from Braxtin Miller and, just like that, Ohio State was down two with 3:28 to play.
The Longhorns converted two free throws, but Ohio State kept going. Mikesell put Ohio State within one, after getting a ball beyond the arc off a loose ball. It was her third three of the game. Harmon, hit from midrange, and the Buckeyes went into the timeout down three.
From the timeout, Sheldon took two defenders and found an open Beacham from midrange. Down one, Ohio State took their last timeout with 28.2 seconds to go.
Sheldon took a midrange shot that went off the rim. Freshman Taylor Thierry went for the follow-up layup but was blocked. The Buckeyes couldn’t foul fast enough, and with 10 seconds left, Harmon ran down the floor but was fouled. Refs reviewed the foul for a potential intentional on Miller.
The foul wasn’t upgraded, and Harmon hit both free throws. With 10 seconds left, and down three, without a timeout, Ohio State ran down the court and attempted a three but Beacham missed the shot, giving Texas a 66-63 victory.
Ohio State’s shooting had a hot and cold first half. After going 56.3% in the first quarter, the second quarter featured just 28.6% from the floor. The Buckeyes couldn’t capitalize on chances. What made it more frustrating for Ohio State was missing layups. They missed their last five going into halftime, giving Texas the opportunity to wipe away a five-point lead.
In the second half, Ohio State ended the game shooting consistently at 43.3%. It wasn’t enough though to overcome Texas.
The Buckeyes had a pair of seniors that played potentially their last games in Scarlet & Gray. Forwards Miller and graduate senior Beacham finished their Ohio State careers fighting.
Miller hit double-digit points for the fourth time in the 2022 calendar year. She ended the game with 12 points, four rebounds and two steals. Beacham, off the bench, had eight points, 10 rebounds and four steals.
While the two don’t end their careers with a trip to the Elite Eight, their contributions throughout the season gives them both a conference championship to end on. Mikesell is also a senior, but she’s not made a final decision on returning for another season.
With the defeat, the Buckeyes season comes to an end. Next up are new commitments, potential transfers and, for Mikesell, a decision to make about returning for a fifth year or taking her chances in the WNBA.