The Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament continued Saturday in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Although the fun of upsets weren’t evident in the later rounds of the five-round tournament, with all four top seeds advancing to the semifinals, a match-up between the strongest in the conference was must see basketball. The first of two semifinals games featured the Ohio State women’s basketball team and the Indiana Hoosiers.
After losing both games against the Hoosiers this season, and four straight entering Saturday, the Buckeyes got over the hump, beating the Hoosiers 79-75. They did it after coming back from down 24 points, the largest comeback in Big Ten Tournament history.
With the win, the Scarlet & Gray head back to the Big Ten Tournament final for the first time since a 2020 loss to the Maryland Terrapins.
Ohio State started the game with a second straight appearance by guard Jacy Sheldon, who returned Friday after playing once since Nov. 30, 2022. Also in good injury news was point guard Rikki Harris back in the lineup after suffering a late fall on Friday against the Michigan Wolverines.
From the tip-off, the Hoosiers had the momentum. It started with a three-point shot by Indiana guard Grace Berger, only her 10th from distance this season. After almost three minutes, Indiana went up six points, and it felt like a Buckeyes timeout was incoming.
Instead, head coach Kevin McGuff let the Scarlet & Gray work out of it, and they did. In less than a minute, the Buckeyes wiped the deficit away thanks to a trio of layups. The first came from an impressive pass through three defenders by Harris, who found guard Taylor Thierry on the other end for an open make.
Then, picking up where she left off Friday, forward Cotie McMahon did a spin move to get through Berger and forward Mackenzie Holmes, making the layup. After trading free throws, it looked like it could be a more evenly matched game but instead the Hoosiers went streaking.
Ohio State missed their next 10 shots while Indiana went on an 11-point run. A stretch of 5:34 without a single shot made by the Buckeyes, going into the second quarter down 12-23.
It continued into the second quarter, with the Buckeyes starting with a travel violation right off the inbound pass. Nothing was working For Ohio State in the slightest.
For example, the Scarlet & Gray grabbed a steal, the second by McMahon, and went down the court attempting a layup. That attempt missed, as was a follow-up offensive rebound and attempt by Thierry. On the subsequent Indiana possession, guard Sydney Parrish drained a three, extending their Hoosiers streak to 16 points.
It would continue to get worse for the Buckeyes.
The Scarlet & Gray missed 14 shots in a row from the midway point of the first quarter into the second quarter. From there, it didn’t get much better, going 5-for-14 for the remainder of the half.
Hurting the Buckeyes the most were shots from beyond the arc. Ohio State entered the locker room 1-for-13 from deep, with the lone make coming from substitute forward Rebeka Mikulášiková with 54 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
At that point, the Hoosiers offense wasn’t slowing down scoring 46 first half points. Ohio State scored the last four points of the half but it only lowered their deficit to 20 points entering the locker room, down 46-26.
It seemed like the Buckeyes were out, but the third quarter was some of the best basketball Ohio State’s played all season. The Scarlet & Gray outscored the Hoosiers 27-17 in the third quarter, didn’t have a single turnover and forced five from Indiana.
Ohio State accomplished it with their full court press. Sheldon had two steals along with Harris and Thierry grabbing one apiece. They forced Indiana to have their worst shooting quarter of the game, going 4-for-10, compared to 21 attempts by the Buckeyes.
Leading the way offensively for Ohio State were Thierry and Harris. The two scored eight and seven respectively and at the end of the third quarter, the Buckeyes were down only 10 after being down 20 points at the half.
That clean basketball in the third was replaced with a tough start to the fourth quarter. Ohio State had three turnovers in the first 3:37 of the fourth quarter. In that span, Indiana pushed their lead back up to double-digits with Ohio State getting it down to five in the first two minutes of the final quarter, scoring the first five of the last 10 minutes of the game.
Again the Buckeyes shrunk the lead thanks to forcing turnovers. Harris had two following a timeout to bring the game back within five points. Of the two, one of them saw Harris leap in the air and land on the media table with Thierry getting a layup and bonus shot on a foul.
Then, after being down 24 points in the second quarter and down 10 points the start of the fourth quarter, Ohio State got their first lead since the 17 second mark in the first quarter.
Sheldon and Mikesell outscored IU in their own 8-3 run. With 1:10 remaining, after IU got the one point lead, Thierry got Ohio State back in the lead with with two free throws.
Indiana had the ball after the free throws and Holmes hit the layup with 45.4 second remaining, putting the Hoosiers up 75-74. The Buckeyes had possession and a timeout to draw up a play.
Harris hit the layup on the inbound, giving Indiana the ball with a one-point deficit with 37.9 seconds remaining. Berger missed the layup and Ohio State had the ball back with 26 seconds remaining and two shots from Indiana going to the bonus. Mikesell hit one of two free throws giving the Buckeyes a two-point lead.
Ohio State pulled off the unquestionable though, holding the lead thanks to hitting free throws in the bonus. The Buckeyes win 79-75.
Taylor Mikesell Minutes Limited
This season, guard Taylor Mikesell played 13 games where she hit all 40 minutes of game time. All season, she averages 35.6 minutes per game, but heading into the fourth quarter, Mikesell had only 21 minutes. In none of the quarters did the guard play all 10 minutes. That could be a tactic for staying healthy with the NCAA Tournament looming or more.
Shooting from Deep
Playing the No. 2 team in the country and conference champions doesn’t allow for much room for error. Ohio State’s first half was a hole that looked too large to get out of after 1-for-13 shooting from beyond the arc plagued the Buckeyes in the first half.
The Buckeyes recovered from the tough shooting half and got back into within single digits, but a lot of questions surround what could have been if shots fell in the first half.
With Ohio State’s victory, the Buckeyes sit and wait for the winner of the other semifinal between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Maryland Terrapins. Ohio State is 0-3 against the two teams this season, losing twice to Maryland and once at home to the Hawkeyes.
If the Scarlet & Gray pull out the final victory, it’ll be their sixth win overall, but fifth official win with the 2018 title vacated by the NCAA.