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Ohio State beats Michigan, despite late run, 81-79

For the third time this season, the Buckeyes and Wolverines tipped off, with even more on the line, move on to face Indiana

Michigan v Ohio State Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

The Ohio State women’s basketball team made it to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the Big Ten women’s basketball tournament. In the single-elimination tournament, the Buckeyes started off with a rivalry match-up against the Michigan Wolverines.

Although both teams have all but locked up their place in the NCAA Tournament, each side was competing to play for a chance at the Big Ten tournament title and secure home court for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Despite not playing for a week, the Buckeyes picked up the victory, defeating the Wolverines 81-79 on a huge night by forward Cotie McMahon.

Head coach Kevin McGuff’s side had a boost even before the game began, with guard Jacy Sheldon returning to action. It was the first time since Feb. 5 and only Sheldon’s second game since Nov. 30. Although she didn’t start, having Sheldon gave the Buckeyes options.

It was clear that both teams were ready for the occasion in the first quarter. There are concerns for Ohio State that not playing for a week could lead to some rust, but they stuck with the Wolverines and pushed into the lead.

Leading the way for the Buckeyes was their full-court press. Ohio State had three steals and forced four turnovers, leading to four points off those turnovers. Offensively, it was freshman forward McMahon.

McMahon had 11 points in the first quarter, including Michigan giving the forward room to shoot and make a wide open three-point shot. Outside of that distance, it was a token McMahon performance, attacking the basket.

Even so, the Wolverines kept things close. At the end of the first quarter, the Scarlet & Gray were up 24-22, both sides shooting over 55% from the field. In the second quarter though, Ohio State would have their chance to push the lead.

It wasn’t easy though. Hurting the Buckeyes were fouls and giving the ball away. The Wolverines had four fouls through the first half of the second quarter, without one whistle going Ohio State’s way. Even so, the scoring was back and forth for much of the quarter.

No team had a run more than four points but for the final eight minutes of the quarter, the Wolverines hit five of 15 shot attempts compared to the Buckeyes going 6-for-10. The second quarter saw Ohio State push their lead because of that consistent shooting up to eight points, entering halftime up 47-39.

A question hampering the Buckeyes this season though are third quarter performances. Would Ohio State allow the lead to calm down their play and let Michigan back into the game?

Michigan slowed the game down to start the third quarter. Opting to use more of the shot clock and limit the number of Ohio State possessions. The tactic worked too. Michigan outscored the Buckeyes 12-5 to start the second half, cutting Ohio State’s lead down to one with six minutes remaining in the third quarter.

With four minutes remaining, the Maize & Blue tied the game up, but Michigan guard Leigha Brown picked up her third foul and with that a trip to the bench. That’s when McMahon took over.

The Buckeyes went on a seven-point run, with five coming from McMahon. The first on a layup where the freshman was fouled, going to the ground, and still hitting the acrobatic attempt. Then, McMahon spun through the Wolverines defense to get her second layup in a row.

McMahon was visibly fired up after the makes, but it didn’t extend to the rest of the Buckeyes. Ohio State held onto their lead to end the quarter, but it went down to three points, with Michigan guard Laila Phelia doing her own spin move layup at the buzzer to cut Ohio State’s lead to a possession.

In the final quarter, Michigan scored the first points of the quarter and quickly McGuff called a timeout, up two points. From the timeout though, the Wolverines would get the lead on a five-point run.

Part of that run was an offensive charge call on Ohio State, which was challenged by McGuff for placement of forward Emily Kiser. The forward ‘s feet weren’t set on the call but since she wasn’t in the restricted area, the call stood.

McMahon and Mikesell responded, each hitting a shot in a game that became back and forth. Trading leads as the clock drained, McMahon stepped up again, this time grabbing a steal and going alone to put Ohio State back up one.

Michigan tied it again with 1:29 left in the game, but Sheldon and Mikesell put the scoresheet’s home team back up. It started with a three from Sheldon, after having just two going into the possession. Then a defensive stop and layup by Mikesell put the Buckeyes back up.

Guard Maddie Nolan, for the Wolverines, hit a three to bring it within two and regained possession with 23.7 seconds left, calling a timeout. From the timeout, McMahon got a block and gave Michigan another chance with 10.3 seconds remaining.

Brown had the final shot but couldn’t get it to fall, giving the Buckeyes the 81-79 win.

McMahon and Thierry Game

Leading the game offensively for the Scarlet & Gray was the underclassmen duo of McMahon and Thierry. The two Buckeyes each had 14 points going into halftime and were the catalyst for getting to the free throw line for Ohio State.

The two led Ohio State in scoring in the win, combining for 48 points, with McMahon securing 28 of those points.

Sheldon’s Return

Sheldon returned For Ohio State, with limited minutes, on Friday. Coming off the bench, the guard had glimpses to what Ohio State was missing. Sheldon had a steal and two assists but overall had a tough return, redeeming her day in the final minute with the three point shot putting Ohio State up two possessions.

What’s Next

With the victory, Ohio State moves on to the Big Ten Tournament semifinal. They’ll face the Indiana Hoosiers, who beat the Michigan State Spartans in the game before Ohio State’s win over the Spartans' in-state rivals.

It’s a rematch of last year’s semifinal, with the Hoosiers beating the Buckeyes 70-62. This season, Ohio State hasn’t fared well against Indiana, losing both regular season games to their neighbors to the west.