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Game Notes: No. 2 Ohio State women lose to No. 6 Indiana

Looking at three good quarters and one awful quarter of basketball

Ohio State v Indiana Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

An already tough week for the Ohio State women’s basketball team got worse on Thursday. In a trip to the No. 6 Indiana Hoosiers, the Buckeyes fell 78-65. On the surface, it looks like another double-digit loss, but beneath the surface, it was a game showing the strength of the Big Ten and that the Scarlet and Gray are a different team than last season.

Here’s more from the Ohio State loss on the campus of Indiana University.

The Third Quarter

If the third quarter wasn’t part of Thursday’s game, head coach Kevin McGuff’s side would have won the game by eight points. Unfortunately, the game takes place over four quarters.

The Buckeyes fought the Hoosiers in a close first half, taking a four-point lead into halftime. It was full of forward Cotie McMahon attacking the paint, Indiana not having an answer for the freshman, and the Ohio State defense neutralizing threats around Hoosiers’ fantastic forward Mackenzie Holmes.

Then, in the third quarter, the wheels fell off.

“We got some good shots early in the third quarter that didn’t go in,” said McGuff. “But we didn’t get back in transition and they turned us over, getting pick-sixes for easy baskets and it really kind of snowballed.”

It snowballed because Indiana played to its potential at the same time the Buckeyes failed to reach their own. The Hoosiers adjusted to the constant post pressure from McMahon and Ohio State, throwing double and triple team sets into the paint when players approached. Indiana also turned their defense into offense.

Indiana had a 17-point and seven-point run while Ohio State scored their second-lowest point total in a quarter all year with six points. In those Hoosier runs was freshman guard Yarden Garzon.

The 6-foot-3 Israeli led Indiana in the quarter with 3-for-6 shooting from deep and two steals. Even though guard Taylor Mikesell stopped Garzon on one of her two steals from getting a free fastbreak layup, the guard still scored 11 points, leading the Crimson in the third quarter.

That was five more points than Ohio State scored all quarter. Indiana scored 13 points off turnovers compared to zero for the visitors; a stark contrast to the other three quarters of the game where the Buckeyes arguably were the better team.

“We’re capable of doing so much,” said McMahon. “We have to just stay the course and do what we do and stay consistent throughout the entire game.”

McMahon vs. Holmes

Ohio State’s McMahon and Indiana’s Holmes are unfortunately two years apart in NCAA eligibility because the two of them on the same court against each other is pure entertainment.

McMahon had a team-high 21 points against Indiana. Those points came from making moves in the paint and getting to the free-throw line eight times, and 18 of the 21 points came in the first half.

The forward was ready for the moment and seemed to feed off the raucous home crowd. Defensively, McMahon made attempts in the paint difficult for the Hoosiers. McMahon had three blocks and outside of fouling out played a much-needed good game for the Buckeyes.

Holmes was alongside McMahon the entire way. Indiana’s forward outscored McMahon with 26 points on 11-for-13 shooting from the floor. The first half saw Holmes score 18 too but went quiet in the second half, and the Buckeyes helped her in a big way sending her to the line three times.

There’s one more game between the two teams in the regular season, Monday, Feb. 13.

Taylor Thierry’s Quietly Big Night

All season, forward/guard Taylor Thierry has been a quiet but consistent foundation of the team. Thursday, that happened again and the loss made it even quieter than usual.

For the first time in her NCAA career, Thierry had a double-double. It was coming for a while, with the forward usually a rebound or two away game in and game out. Thursday, Thierry scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

After Monday's loss, coach McGuff emphasized the vast 20-rebound deficit to the Iowa Hawkeyes and Thierry listened with Thursday’s performance. Those 12 rebounds were part of a night where Ohio State matched Indiana with 41 rebounds apiece, unfortunately for the Buckeyes other issues surfaced.

Making it more impressive was Thierry doing it playing fewer minutes than average, in four fewer minutes on the court. That’s because Thierry went to the bench due to foul issues.

Thursday’s the first of likely many double-doubles for the guard/forward as she continues her NCAA development.

Taylor Mikesell Hits 2,000

If it’s tough to find the positive in a 13-point loss, like Thierry’s night, it’s even more difficult for a player to celebrate a personal accomplishment. That’s Mikesell’s night.

After two seasons with the Maryland Terrapins and a tough single season with the Oregon Ducks before coming back to her home state, Mikesell hit 2,000 NCAA points. They came in the first quarter, on the first points of the game.

Mikesell needed 14 against Iowa but fell one basket short. Those first two points against Indiana didn’t come with any fanfare, playing away from the Schottenstein Center. Even with the loss though, McGuff found the words to describe the graduate senior guard’s accomplishment.

“It’s really an incredible accomplishment from Taylor,” said McGuff. “She’s such a great player and has been such an incredible addition to our program. She’s a great kid and a great leader, especially in year two.”

Coach also added it’s no surprise considering the work she puts in behind the scenes. Before Thursday’s game, Mikesell was the first person out of the locker room taking shots over an hour before the game tipped. During practice, she’s the first one out working with the team managers.

Mikesell also puts in that work for the team, because the win is what counts.

“It’s pretty cool but at the end of the day you want to come out with the win,” said Mikesell. “Doesn’t really mean anything if you don’t win the game.”

The Indiana Crowd Deserves Praise

After Indiana reached a program record for attendance last week, they broke the mark again. Thursday’s game featured 10,455 fans filling Assembly Hall. The area is all general admission seating, and fans were lined up outside of the building over two hours before the game began.

Before it officially began, the atmosphere was already at a level the Buckeyes haven’t seen this year. First, they honored head coach Teri Moren for becoming the winningest coach in program history. Then, the national anthem was done by a mariachi band.

When it came to songs, chants, and traditions, all 10,000 people seemed to know what to do, like they rehearsed it but they don’t have to because basketball is in Indiana residents’ blood.

In the game, every made shot by Indiana elicited a collective roar. In the third quarter, when Indiana forced two straight turnovers that turned into fastbreak layups, the sound was so loud it sounded like one sharp high pitched tone, probably not safe for the ears.

It’s a crowd that Ohio State fans wish they could recreate.

“Each time we’ve come over the last couple of years it’s gotten bigger and bigger,” said McGuff. “Which is awesome for them and our league.”

Coaches and players talk about fans and what they bring to the game, but there’s no crowd the Buckeyes have seen or played against this year that can touch what the Hoosier fans brought Thursday.