Sunday, Ohio State women’s basketball finished a tough stretch of away games against the Maryland Terrapins, Illinois Fighting Illini and the opponent of the day: The Purdue Boilermakers. It was the first time the two teams faced off since Jan 29, 2023, when the Boilermakers defeated the Buckeyes at home.
This time around, the scarlet and gray came away with the victory, defeating Purdue 71-68 in another close win. A win based on defense and timely shooting.
Out of the gate, the Buckeyes were running. Ohio State started the game with a seven-point run, thanks to a pair of layups by forward Taylor Thierry with a three-point shot by guard Celeste Taylor sandwiched in-between. However, a hard fall to the court sent Thierry to the sideline, missing the next three minutes of the game.
Thierry’s absence didn’t hurt the Buckeyes, but a 12-6 start to the quarter could’ve been more if not for tough shooting from beyond the arc. Ohio State took three-point shots early and often but after Taylor’s initial make, the Buckeyes missed its next six, often taken quickly in the shot clock, trying to start the game with a quick pace.
Instead, Purdue recovered from missing its first four shots of the game by going inside heavily. The Boilermakers responded going 3-for-5, all inside the paint.
Then, a moment requiring a referee review slowed the game down. Late in the shot clock, forward Cotie McMahon went for a shot and three Purdue Boilermakers collided with the sophomore. After a lengthy review, a foul was called on Purdue freshman forward Mary Ashley Stevenson. Also, McMahon received an intentional foul call for the followthrough elbow that hit Stevenson in the face on the way down from the shot attempt.
After the threes weren’t hitting, head coach Kevin McGuff changed things up, pushing the Buckeyes to do more inside the paint. Unfortunately for Ohio State, it would have to do it without McMahon or Thierry who both picked up two fouls in the first quarter, heading to the bench.
Guard Rikki Harris, who picked up additional minutes with Thierry’s knock and foul trouble, stopped the six-shot run of misses from beyond the arc. However, Purdue freshman guard Rashunda Jones scored the final five points of the quarter for the home team. Both attacking the basket, plus an additional shot from the free throw line. That three from Harris gave the Buckeyes a 20-19 advantage heading into the second quarter.
Harris started the second quarter like she ended the first: From beyond the arc. The deep shot put Ohio State back up two possessions, with Taylor following that up with a block and change of possession against guard Jeanae Terry.
Offense slowed for both teams in the second. Each side took breaks of over two minutes between baskets, with forward Rebeka Mikulášiková hitting a pair of free throws and layup to score four of Ohio State’s seven to start the quarter. With Purdue not shooting much better, the Buckeyes held onto a two-point lead heading into the second quarter media timeout.
Out of the timeout, substitute guard Emma Shumate hit a three and a midrange jumper, taking the offensive responsibilities into her own hands. The Boilermakers couldn’t keep up with its offense struggling to close out the quarter. Ohio State extended its lead to six points heading into halftime, up 33-27.
Although the 13 points and 33.3% shooting was difficult for Ohio State, defensively the Buckeyes held Purdue. The Boilermakers went 3-for-12 from the floor, hitting three baskets all quarter.
The storyline for the Buckeyes was the play of McMahon. Although the forward only played 11 minutes due to foul trouble, McMahon still had seven rebounds and five assists in those 11 minutes.
To start the second quarter, it was slow going for both sides, but Purdue found another gear first. It began with a corner three by guard Abbey Ellis, her first points of the game after leading Purdue last year in its defeat of the Buckeyes with 26 points. Then Jones turned an Ohio State turnover into a fast break layup. Coach McGuff called a timeout to slow the game down, with the Buckeyes lead down to one point.
Ellis wiped that lead away out of the timeout, hitting a fast break layup. It was a trend of the quarter too. The Buckeyes responded, going up three, but Ellis hit her second open three-point shot of the second half.
Ohio State adjusted to the extra space by Ellis, and shut the guard down for the remainder of the half. Inversely, the Buckeyes offense excelled with the improved defense. Outside of a fast break three by backup guard Sophie Swanson, the scarlet and gray scored 13 of the last 20 points of the quarter to take a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Included in those 13 points were the first five of the game by guard Jacy Sheldon who was quiet for the first 28 minutes.
Leading the game in scoring for both teams at the start of the fourth quarter was the Buckeyes’ Mikulášiková. Unfortunately for Coach McGuff, the big grabbed her fourth foul of the game early in the final quarter, meaning a seat on the bench. At the time, the scarlet and gray were up six points, thanks to a three-point shot by Taylor, her second of the game.
The Buckeyes couldn’t seem to find that next gear to pull away from a Purdue side playing its toughest stretch of the season, and on a five-game losing streak.
Out of a timeout, Thierry hit a shot under the rim, picking up where Mikulášiková left off. Then, Ellis was left open again from deep, giving the guard her third shot from deep in the second half. The Boilermakers weren’t breaking under the pressure, playing in front of a loud Mackey Arena.
After Terry hit two free throws, it was a single possession game, but McMahon responded. The sophomore got the layup and extra shot from the line, giving her 10 points in the game. At that point, McMahon was only one rebound and two assists away from a triple-double, the first of her career and first since guard Samantha Prahalis on Feb. 6, 2011 against Northwestern.
The five-point run by Ohio State to that point was answered with four by the Boilermakers. It put the Buckeyes lead up to four points with two minutes remaining, with the scarlet and gray and black and old gold getting into the bonus. Free throws would help decide the final outcome and both sides started off strong, hitting their first two apiece.
As exciting as the action could be with such a close scoreline, two straight possessions ended with referees looking at film to decide who had possession. As important it was to get the calls right, momentum in the game was gone.
Then the freshman Purdue Jones did her best to put Purdue into the win column. Going up against Mikulášiková, Jones earned two shots at the line and hit them both. That foul put Mikulášiková out of the game too. It became a two-point lead for Ohio State with 21.8 seconds remaining.
With the final possession, on two missed free throws by Taylor, the Boilermakers got the ball into the hands of Ellis. With a few seconds remaining, Ellis took a quick heave of a three from beyond the half court line. It was a blessing for the Buckeyes because the Australian shooter had time to advance it further down the court. Instead, the last-second attempt missed, giving the Buckeyes the 71-68 road victory.
McMahon Doubles Up
While the Centerville, Ohio sophomore didn’t have flashes of the fantastic in the run of play like a week ago against the Hawkeyes, McMahon took over the game in quieter ways. McMahon led everyone on the court in both rebounds and assists, just two assists shy of the first triple-double in 13 years for the Buckeye program.
Even so, it's a performance that shows the growth of the young star, letting the public know that she isn’t only going to spin and score for the public’s amusement. Coach McGuff credits it to hard work in practice, and it showed against Purdue.
Quiet Guard Game
Having a less exciting game, offensively, were Sheldon and Taylor. The two graduate seniors combined for 15 points, seven rebounds and four rebounds. However, on defense Sheldon’s three steals and a mostly strong defensive game, holding Ellis to under her season average in scoring, still provided what the Buckeyes needed to pull away with the seventh victory in a row.
Ohio State returns home for two games in a row at the Schottenstein Center, playing five of the last nine in Columbus. It begins with a game against the Wisconsin Badgers, who enter the Thursday evening game with a 10-9 record.
Then, in a week, the Buckeyes welcome the No. 14 Indiana Hoosiers to Ohio for its only regular season game of the season against head coach Teri Moren’s side. Last season, the Buckeyes lost both regular season games against the Hoosiers but bettered the neighbors to the west with a 25-point comeback in the semifinal of the Big Ten women’s basketball tournament.