INDIANAPOLIS — Ohio State sits alone atop the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes added a Big Ten Tournament title to their outright regular season conference title on Sunday night, topping No. 2 seed Maryland 79-69.
|#1 Ohio State||17||27||13||22||79|
Ohio State opened up an 18-point third quarter lead and seemed to have control, but Maryland battled back, cutting the lead to just 61-59 with just under six to play.
Ultimately, the game's best player was the difference. Kelsey Mitchell scored 12 fourth-quarter points, including back-to-back threes, to bury the Terps. She finished with a game-high 25 points.
Mitchell was hardly the only player to contribute to the victory. Four different players reached double figures, and Stephanie Mavunga and Linnae Harper each had double-doubles.
The tournament title is Ohio State's first since 2011 and sixth overall. It also marks Maryland's first Big Ten Tournament loss since joining the conference – the Terps had won three-straight tournament titles.
The first quarter was a back-and-forth battle between Big Ten heavyweights. The teams traded buckets, with Maryland holding a slight advantage throughout the quarter due to efficient scoring, but Ohio State hung around with pesky defense and the Terps led 22-17 after the first.
|29-71 (41%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||29-72 (40%)|
|7-20 (35%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||5-15 (33%)|
|14-20 (70%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||6-12 (50%)|
Then the Buckeyes took over.
Ohio State owned the second quarter from start to finish. The Buckeyes opened the second on a 16-2 run, and outscored Maryland 27-9 the entire quarter. The team just 25 percent in the first, but hit 57 percent of its shots from the field in the second.
The team is usually led by Mitchell or Mavunga's scoring, but it was Linnae Harper and Makayla Waterman who dominated in the game's pivotal quarter. Harper had eight points – nearly matching Maryland's total by herself – and Waterman had six to help the Buckeyes to a 44-31 first-half lead.
The Buckeyes stretched the lead to as high as 18 points midway through the third, Maryland didn't go down easy. The Terps closed the quarter 12-2 run thanks to eight-straight points from Maryland's Kristen Confroy to cut the Ohio State lead to just 57-49 entering the final quarter.
The Terrapin momentum continued in the fourth as they outscored Ohio State 10-4 to start the quarter, cutting the Buckeye lead to just two points, but that's as close as they got. Mitchell and Mavunga took over in the fourth, and Ohio State came pulled out a 79-69 victory.
The Buckeyes – an automatic bid – now wait to learn their NCAA Tournament seed. Ohio State was the top No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament selection committee's early release of the bracket on Feb. 19. Since then, the Buckeyes are 5-0 and should be a virtual lock for a top-four seed and a host site for the open weekend's games.
The bracket will be revealed on Monday, March 12 during the NCAA Selection Show.