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Cotie McMahon wins Naismith Player of the Week

The Buckeyes’ huge game Sunday marks the first time the award’s gone to the scarlet and gray since 2017

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Ohio State women’s basketball grabbed the basketball world’s attention Sunday, defeating the then No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes in front of a record-breaking 18,860 in the Schottenstein Center. Rising to the occasion for the Buckeyes was forward Cotie McMahon, who was awarded for her achievements on the week Monday by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. McMahon is the first Ohio State player since Kelsey Mitchell in 2017 to win the honor.

McMahon had a career day against the Hawkeyes, scoring 33 points, a new career high, and grabbing 12 rebounds and two blocks. The stat sheet is impressive, but when the points came in set them apart.

“We just did not have an answer for Cotie McMahon inside,” said Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Lisa Bluder. “She’s really really hard to guard. She’s a great basketball player.”

With the Buckeyes down 12 points in the fourth quarter, McMahon led the Buckeyes in the comeback, scoring 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting in the fourth quarter. All coming inside the paint, earning additional shots from the free throw line. McMahon went 3-for-4 on those bonus opportunities after entering Sunday shooting 60.8% from the free throw line.

It's a performance reflective of a sophomore rising above already high expectations set in her freshman season. Especially considering a lull for the forward at the end of the 2023 calendar year, averaging 4.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in the final three games of December, starting with seven points in a home defeat to then No. 2 ranked UCLA Bruins.

“Going back to prior to Christmas, she wasn’t playing really well,” said head coach Kevin McGuff. “She has practiced extremely hard and extremely well every single day since we came out of the Christmas break. And so I’m really happy to see her be able to apply that to the game today.”

The Buckeye was back in a big way, combining that hard work with the motivation of Ohio State struggling against the Hawkeyes twice during the 22-23 season. However, it isn’t only Sunday’s performance that set McMahon apart from her NCAA peers.

On Wednesday, in a tough away trip to the Maryland Terrapins, a place where the Buckeyes haven’t since since 2016, McMahon willed the Buckeyes to a victory with a strong fourth quarter performance.

McMahon applied herself off the ball. Still scoring seven points, McMahon also grabbed three offensive rebounds, had a block and assist.

“I didn’t want to lose this game,” said McMahon after the victory.

Both performances indicative of a McMahon who’s focused and growing individually as the Ohio State team grows in confidence this season. McMahon’s 33 points were a team high for the Buckeyes in Sunday’s win, capping off a five-game winning streak for the scarlet and gray.

Along with McMahon’s individual award, the Buckeyes moved up to No. 12 in the AP Poll. The six-spot jump is the largest in the week.