On Jan. 23, 2023, No. 2 ranked Ohio State women’s basketball sat 19-0, welcoming No. 10 Iowa to the Schottenstein Center. At the end of the game, the Buckeyes fell short, losing 83-72 to the Hawkeyes, led by a triple-double performance by guard Caitlin Clark who’s 28 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds were followed up by a moment that sat with Ohio State.
In the sellout of all available tickets that day, not including the top of the arena, fans received a special “Dub Chain” t-shirt by the university. It paid homage to the actual dub chain the team gives out to a player following victories. Following the win, Clark grabbed one of the shirts and threw it over her shoulder. This happened in front of then-freshman forward Cotie McMahon.
“Caitlin Clark took the dub chain shirt, as like a little joke, whatever, which is cool,” said McMahon. “I was just thinking in my head, seeing that, we just have to smile through it and move on to the next.”
The poor run of form didn’t linger forever. The scarlet and gray bounced back, making it to the Big Ten Tournament final, falling harder than before to the Hawkeyes. Still, recovering and making it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.
With a years worth of basketball between the last time the two teams faced off in Columbus, McMahon fielded a question about how that 11-point defeat against the Hawkeyes in January 2023, especially the end of the game, sat with the sophomore.
“This game was personal. This game was very personal,” said McMahon when asked about that moment sitting with the team. “And I think I responded well.”
From the jump, McMahon was a player possessed. McMahon had a Clark-esque game, taking, and making, almost as many shots as the superstar senior. Clark ended the day Sunday going 12-for-25 from the floor, with McMahon going 12-for-23.
Both players tried their best to will their team to victory. It started from the jump for McMahon. The forward from Centerville, Ohio scored 11 of Ohio State’s 24 in the first quarter, including three trips to the foul line, making all three attempts.
After a quieter few quarters, the forward started hitting at the Hawkeyes’ nerve in the fourth quarter. That’s when McMahon started things off with a layup and trip to the foul line — a moment that McMahon’s already had numerous times in her year and a half in the NCAA.
On Sunday, McMahon followed each “and one” moment with a visceral showing of excitement, screaming and pumping her fists.
“It’s like an out of body experience,” said McMahon. “I feel like an “and one” is just like the best thing in the world, especially when you have this kind of crowd. It’s just, like, everyone is rooting for you. You make the bucket and you get a foul, that’s just, that’s LeBron (James) stuff right there.”
Like Clark is used to doing, and James for that matter, McMahon led her team to victory Sunday. A personal single-game record 33 points built off spins, jumps and contact from teammates and the court. Then, topping it all off with a 3-for-3 performance in overtime, plus a couple free throws to again feel like the NBA legend.
After the game, two days from a year to the day, when the dub chain was used to taunt the Buckeyes, McMahon received a special team honor. You guessed it: the dub chain.
It’s a performance that also breaks a period of quiet offensive production by the forward. Since losing to the UCLA Bruins on Dec. 18, McMahon averaged 8.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game — both below her NCAA career averages.
Sunday wasn’t only the product of a tough home loss last season. After the inconsistent start to the season, McMahon’s worked harder than ever in practice, according to head coach Kevin McGuff. It’s that hard work that created what happened Sunday and whatever spills over from that win.
For Ohio State, everything that happened Sunday might create a similar core memory for Clark and the Hawkeyes, following an unfortunate run-in between Clark and a person rushing the court. Fortunately, Ohio State apologized, Clark is ok and both programs gave all the signs of moving on in the post game press conference.
Unfortunately for Ohio State, it gives Clark something she doesn’t need: More motivation.
On March 3, the two teams go up against each other again, this time in Iowa City. Thanks to the performance by McMahon on Sunday, it could be for the Big Ten conference title.