The Ohio State women’s basketball team stepped into the Schottenstein Center for potentially the last time in the 2022-23 campaign on Friday. It was a game against the No. 7 Maryland Terrapins, a side the Buckeyes lost to by 36 points to back on Feb. 5.
Friday night, the Buckeyes fell for a second time to the Terrapins this season, this time by a 76-74 scoreline that came down to the final second on the clock.
Excitement of the final game of the season was evident early on. It took a minute and a half before any team made a shot, missing their first three combined attempts between the two sides.
As the shots began to fall, the Terrapins showed why they beat the No. 6 Iowa Hawkeyes on Tuesday. Maryland hit their first six shots of the game and went up 12-6 early. The Buckeyes had a timeout on the other side of the deficit and cut it down to two points.
Ohio State did it on the defensive side of the ball. Maryland went from hitting their first six shots to missing their next four. The Buckeyes continued the momentum till the end of the first quarter, when Mikesell hit a layup with a second left on the clock.
Going into the second quarter up 16-15, but Maryland moved ahead quickly. Halfway through the second quarter, the Terrapins were up seven and hurting Ohio State were fouls. The ones they gave up and the ones they couldn’t convert.
Guard Taylor Thierry and forwards Cotie McMahon and Eboni Walker each got to the line but missed all six of their combined attempts. The only person to hit in the quarter was guard Rikki Harris.
Defensively, the Buckeyes fouls had the inverse effect for the Terrapins. In three straight defensive possessions, Ohio State fouled and put a Maryland player to the line. The visitors hit 5-for-6 from the free throw line. As the deficit grew smaller for the Scarlet & Gray, fans couldn’t help but do the math and see how making those free attempts consistently would’ve made it a different quarter.
That’s because head coach Kevin McGuff’s side. After settling for individual shots, the home team strung together a four-point run that put the game within three points, a vastly different night than on Feb. 5. Instead of being down 12 points at the half, Friday night Ohio State needed to overcome a five-point deficit if they hoped to pull out the victory.
With less than 10 seconds remaining in the half, Maryland guard Abby Meyers received a pass in the paint, right underneath the basket. After taking a generous few steps in a turn, and the crowd screaming for a travel call, the former Princeton guard hit the layup before the buzzer.
It was a different looking Ohio State team this time around. In the first half, the Buckeyes held future WNBA professional, Maryland guard Diamond Miller, to 10 points in the first half and forced four turnovers off the dual threat player.
Out of the second half gates, both teams were firing. For Ohio State, their deficit was erased thanks to a six-point run including an impressive under the basket layup by Thierry with a trip to the line, hitting the bonus shot. Then Mikesell hit a three on the next possession to put the game at 46-46.
From there though, the Buckeyes struggled offensively on three straight possessions. The first was a foul with forward Eboni Walker tripping and sending two Terps to the ground. On another, it was Mikesell picking up an offensive foul on a screen.
During that stretch, the visitors hit a layup and three point shot by Miller and substitute guard Lavender Briggs. Down five points again, the home team didn’t waver. Sound defensive pressure and rebounding turned it back into a tied game at 51 a piece, then Ohio State found a stride.
The Buckeyes responded with a seven-point run, started by a Thierry three and capped off with a jumper by the sophomore, putting Ohio State ahead for the first time since the end of the first quarter.
After allowing a layup and trading three-point shots, the game was tied again. McMahon responded with a drive to the lane, hitting a free throw but missing from the free throw line. Even with the miss, Walker was there to grab the offensive rebound, finding Mikesell for a three-point shot.
It gave Ohio State their first lead of the second half, and first lead since the start of the second quarter. The Buckeyes swung a five-point deficit into a five-point lead, going into the final quarter up 63-58.
Into the fourth quarter, Ohio State needed a quick timeout after their five-point deficit was wiped away in the first 51 seconds. It was Meyers doing the scoring for the Terrapins, hitting a three and then Ohio State giving up a poor turnover on a pass and Meyers going on the break.
Out of the timeout again, the Buckeyes looked better. Ohio State scored six of the next eight points of the game, holding onto a four-point lead, but Maryland again pushed ahead. The Buckeyes missed their lone shot from the run of play, two free throws and gave the ball away twice in the span of just over a minute. In the same time, Maryland went on an eight-point run, going up four points with four minutes remaining.
It was a hectic few minutes in the final quarter. Ohio State went from up four to down four, then tied thanks to shots by Thierry and Mikulášiková.
The story was missed free throws though again. Down two points with 2:38 remaining, McMahon was fouled going to the basket and hit one of her two attempts. All the while, Maryland star Miller had four fouls, sitting on the bench.
With 1:34 remaining, the Buckeyes were down one and Miller reentered the game. After two unsuccessful possession on both sides of the offensive court, there was less than a minute For Ohio State to regain a lead to pull out the win.
Mikesell had the chance to go ahead, going for a floating layup and missing the attempt. Off the miss, Maryland called the timeout with 25 seconds left and the one-point lead.
After fouling and forcing an inbound pass situation, McMahon attempted to cutoff the pass and it went out of bounds, causing a review of possession with 18.8 seconds remaining. After reviewing the monitor, Maryland held the possession.
On the next inbound came another review. This time Ohio State got a turnover and Thierry got possession and ran down half court. On the run, the referee called it out of bounds even though it didn’t appear to be out in the live action.
Going to the line following intentional fouls, Meyers made one of two shots, giving the Buckeyes 11.3 seconds and a two-point deficit to wipe away. On the inbound though, guard Shyanne Sellers tripped Harris with a chance to tie the game with two free throws.
Harris missed both and McMahon got the rebound but couldn’t get the layup. Instead, Maryland knocked the ball out with 5.9 seconds remaining. On the inbound a third out of bounds review came, this time potentially hurting the Buckeyes. After the shortest of the three reviews, Ohio State had one more shot with 4.7 seconds left.
On the inbound Thierry missed a shot but McMahon got the put back. Unfortunately, it was right after the buzzer sounded, giving the Buckeyes a close 76-74 defeat.
Mikesell’s Senior Night Swan Song
Although there’s a strong chance it won’t be Mikesell’s final game in the Schottenstein Center, with Ohio State currently in the NCAA’s top-16, the guard showed that leadership and scoring ability.
Mikesell scored 18 points on the night, hitting four three-pointers in the process. Also, while she doesn’t get a statistical point on the box score for the work, Mikesell also played sound defense all night, sometimes on Maryland’s star Miller.
If something strange happens and the Buckeyes don’t host the NCAA Tournament in their backyard, Mikesell can hang her hat on showing why she’s been so crucial to Ohio State in only two seasons in scarlet.
Something the Scarlet & Gray can hang their hat on is multiple players finding their scoring stroke. For the first time since Jan. 29, four Buckeyes hit double-figures in scoring and that was before the start of the fourth quarter.
Thierry, Mikesell, McMahon and forward Rebeka Mikulášiková, substituting off the bench, each hit the mark giving Ohio State their five-point lead going into the final quarter. All season, it’s been two or sometimes three Buckeyes who’ve controlled on one night to the next.
Friday showed the Buckeyes can compete with the best teams in the conference when passes find open teammates and the players hit their shots.
The Buckeyes have a week before their next game, in the third round of the Big Ten Tournament. With the double-bye Ohio State secured against the Michigan Wolverines on Monday, the Buckeyes face either the No. 12, 13 or 5 seed team, with seeding still up in the air until the Big Ten regular season concludes on Sunday.
Should Ohio State move on in their Friday, March 3 game, they would have a strong chance to face the No. 2 Indiana Hoosiers, who are the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. A team the Buckeyes lost to twice this season.