It’s been a while since the Ohio State women’s basketball team has defeated the Indiana Hoosiers. Jan. 28, 2021 was the last victory, in a regular season that ended with no NCAA postseason basketball due to self-imposed sanctions for the Buckeyes. Since then, Ohio State has four straight defeats.
Saturday, Ohio State has an opportunity to end that streak in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
On Friday, the top four seeds of the Big Ten Tournament entered the competition. In three of the four games, the new teams had early struggles. Indiana was down 12 points to the Michigan State Spartans, the Purdue Boilermakers stayed in the game with the Iowa Hawkeyes until halftime and the Illinois Fighting Illini went back and forth with the Maryland Terrapins in the first quarter.
Of the four, it was the Buckeyes who came out the strongest, not looking like there were any problems with getting back into competition. Playing the strongest seed outside of the top-four, the Michigan Wolverines who held the No. 5 seed in the tournament, Ohio State went down one point late but came back to get the win.
Now, on Saturday, the Scarlet & Gray need to raise their game to face an Indiana team who’s had their number.
The second half of the Hoosiers’ game was a 60-45 Indiana rout. Leading the way was guard Chloe Moore-McNeil who scored 19 points with 11 assists and five rebounds. Not known for consistently high scoring games, Moore-McNeil pushed the Hoosiers and consistently found guard Sara Scalia and forward Mackenzie Holmes who scored 20 and 27 points, respectively.
It was needed too. Point guard and soon-to-be former Hoosier Grace Berger had a quieter eight-point night, which is by no means a guarantee to repeat Saturday. The same with Moore-McNeil, who will have a specific job on defense in the semifinal: Stop Ohio State guard Taylor Mikesell.
In two previous games this season, Mikesell has 15 points in each Ohio State defeat, under her 17.3 point average. Through both games, Moore-McNeil was in Mikesell’s face exclusively. That meant limited chances from beyond the arc.
Saturday could be different though with guard Jacy Sheldon returning Friday against the Wolverines. Sheldon might even start with guard Rikki Harris taking a hard fall late in the game, and going back to the locker room.
“We play a little faster with her in the game,” said head coach Kevin McGuff. “Just the overall pace is better.”
On Jan. 26, when Ohio State went to Indiana’s Assembly Hall, the Scarlet & Gray entered halftime with the lead but followed it with the second worst offensive quarter of the season, being outscored by Indiana 27-6. Sheldon’s addition, plus the added motivation of it being in the tournament and against a team in which the Buckeyes have struggled against, could bring a more consistent Ohio State to the game.
“Obviously they beat us two times in a row. So I feel like us — for us, it’s kind of personal,” said forward Cotie McMahon. “So, I feel like just coming out tomorrow, we’re going to have to focus on the little things, guarding the ball way better than we did tonight, kind of just things like that.”
- Coach McGuff didn’t seem too concerned about Harris’ late fall or overly confident that Sheldon is ready for a full start, so Harris starting wouldn’t be a surprise.
- McMahon’s 28 points, 12 rebounds, double-double is her second this season, following one against the Penn State Nittany Lions on Feb. 16.
- Thierry’s 20-point game is her sixth this season hitting at least 20 points.
- Holmes and guard Yarden Garzon each fouled out of the game against the Spartans in Saturday’s first Big Ten quarterfinal.
- Moore-McNeil’s double-double was her first of the season.
- Indiana hit 12-of-22 from beyond the arc on Saturday and held Michigan State to 3-for-12 in the second half from deep.
The Buckeyes will need to pull more out of their bag to beat the Hoosiers. If the Scarlet & Gray play against them like they did Feb. 24 against the Maryland Terrapins, it’ll be a close game.
Saturday, Ohio State will play a more complete game than the previous two outings. McMahon will attack the basket like usual, but they’ll get more production from guards in the game like Mikesell, Sheldon and Harris.
Mikesell will reach 20 points in the game, with McMahon and Sheldon creating more space. Defensively, the Buckeyes won’t be able to stop Indiana’s star forward Holmes, so Ohio State will play stronger around the perimeter. Holmes can’t receive double coverage when the by-product is Garzon, Berger and substitute Sara Scalia open from beyond the arc.
How to Watch
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2023
Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Stream: Fox Sports app with a BTN subscription
LGHL Score Prediction: 86-80 Ohio State Buckeyes
Reaching a Final
If the Buckeyes pick up the victory against Indiana, they’ll face either the Iowa Hawkeyes or the Maryland Terrapins in Sunday evening’s tournament final.
This season, the top four seeds each reached the semifinal, which is appropriate considering how all four teams performed in the regular season. A win on Saturday puts the Buckeyes back into the Big Ten Tournament final for the first time since 2020.
In that last final, the Scarlet & Gray fell to the Maryland Terrapins. That defeat was the third straight time the Buckeyes made the final and had to face the Terrapins. The last time Ohio State hasn’t faced a Maryland team in the final was 2011 against the Penn State Nittany Lions.