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Cotie McMahon doing things Ohio State hasn’t seen in a long time

How the freshman played her best game of the season on her largest collegiate stage, so far

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Sometimes in the world of sports, there are superstitions surrounding winning awards and tough performances that sometimes follow. Well, Ohio State women’s basketball forward Cotie McMahon, that trend was bucked in a big way. Here’s how the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and All-B1G Second Team member, did things on the court that impressed even her own coach.

McMahon’s impressive game in the 81-79 Ohio State quarterfinals victory over the Wolverines began early in the first quarter. With the Buckeyes up 3-2 early on, McMahon gave a clue as to how the game would go for her over the next four quarters. It was a simple enough play.

The freshman went up for a layup, missed it, but stayed with the play. McMahon grabbed the offensive rebound and hit both free throws as she was fouled on a follow up attempt. It was the first rebound of 12 and first points of 26, her second double-double of the season.

It wasn’t the highest scoring game of McMahon’s young career, that came against the USF Bulls where she hit 30 points on Dec. 20. No, but it was the most complete game McMahon’s had all season.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen somebody that young play so hard,” said head coach Kevin McGuff. “She competes on every possession.”

Buckeye fans saw that “every possession” mentality in the last game against the Michigan Wolverines on Feb. 20. Even though the freshman was mostly stifled on the night, and not getting whistles to go her way when attacking the paint, the freshman came into the fourth quarter with four fouls and it didn’t deter her.

Scoring only two points up until the last five minutes, McMahon had five in the final five minutes, including two rebounds and three assists in Ohio State’s 74-61 win. Friday night, against Michigan in the tournament, there wasn’t much stifling of the freshman.

McMahon led Ohio State with 11 points in the first quarter, including a wide open three-point shot where Michigan dared her to shoot and she satisfied the terms of the dare.

In the remaining 15 points over the next 30 minutes, McMahon pummeled the basket. In the third quarter, two of those attempts were some of the best she’s had in her first season. The first came as McMahon was about to hit the court, off a foul, and hit a diving layup and the free throw.

Then, on the very next offensive possession, McMahon spun through two defenders, hitting a layup.

The Centerville, Ohio forward was asked about her offensive prowess on the day, going in a different direction than expected; typical Cotie McMahon.

“For me, really offense wasn’t my main focus. It was defense,” said McMahon. “I feel like you take care of the defensive end and your offense will take care of itself, and it did.”

In the second half especially, McMahon made game-defining defensive plays. The first came with the Buckeyes down a point with 3:40 remaining in the game. McMahon anticipated a pass near the scorer’s table and was off to the races, exemplifying what McGuff calls “the most exciting five seconds in college basketball.”

McMahon ran the half length of the court remaining and hit a layup to put the Buckeyes up by one. She followed it with two free throws on another attack of the basket. Michigan tied the game twice after that, but never got back into the lead and with less than 10 seconds remaining, McMahon made sure of it.

Michigan was down two points, and guard Elise Stuck took the ball baseline for a layup. McMahon swatted the ball away. The rest of the team provided good defense after that block to hold onto the win.

Now, the Buckeyes have an even bigger game, giving McMahon and her teammates another stage for performing. This time against the Indiana Hoosiers, with McMahon telling the Big Ten commentary desk that “it’s personal.” It’s the next, but definitely not the last time McMahon will show the country what she’s about.

“You can see she loves to play,” said McGuff. “She loves to play with her teammates. Just a great kid to coach. Really excited about what the future holds for her.”