Ohio State's season, and Kelsey Mitchell's storied Buckeye career came to an unceremonious end on Monday night as Ohio State fell 95-78 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
|#3 Ohio State||15||6||25||32||78|
|#11 Central Michigan||9||25||33||28||95|
The Chippewas went on a 29-6 stretching across the end of the first quarter all the way through to halftime to take a 34-21 lead, then unleashed a barrage of threes in the third, hitting 7-of-8 from behind the arc, as the Buckeyes tried to claw their way back into the game.
"I don't think we've ever got into a position where teams just went 7-for-8 from the three-point line," Mitchell said.
Mitchell said they expected Central Michigan to be able to shoot the ball, but after a while bad rotations in the full-court press led to open shots.
"We knew going through the scout that they could all shoot the ball pretty well," Mitchell said. "We did our best to contest as many shots as we could, then we went to the press and down the stretch, in transition we couldn't rotate and get to the right person. They ended up shooting wide open shots."
Combine those threes with the ones hit before the half and the one hit to start the fourth, and Central Michigan hit 11-of-12 three-pointers over about a 12-minute stretch.
"After a while, they couldn't miss," Mitchell said. "Well, the whole game, they couldn't miss."
The loss marks an unceremonious end to the stellar careers of five Buckeye seniors: Kelsey Mitchell, Stephanie Mavunga, Linnae Harper, Asia Doss and Alexa Hart.
For Mitchell, she ends her career as one of the best players in Ohio State history, owning a slew of school and conference records. During the loss, she passed Jackie Stiles for second on the NCAA Division I all-time scoring list.
"We lost," was Mitchell's only reaction to the news. "That's all I can say."
|OHIO STATE||STAT||CENTRAL MICHIGAN|
|29-73 (40%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||28-62 (45%)|
|14-27 (52%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||11-29 (38%)|
|9-14 (64%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||25-27 (93%)|
It was a bitter loss for a talented group of seniors.
"It's hard," head coach Kevin McGuff said after the game. "We're going to look back and I'm really proud of what our kids for what we accomplished – winning the Big Ten regular season, winning the tournament, and probably more importantly, we had really great kids."
The first quarter was a low-scoring affair as both teams struggled to find a rhythm offensively. The teams combined for just 24 points in the quarter with Ohio State shooting just 33 percent from the field and Central Michigan 19 percent.
It was a back-and-forth game through much of the opening minutes, then the Chippewas took over. Central Michigan went on a 20-1 run stretching across the end of the first quarter through to the middle of the second quarter.
The Buckeyes briefly stopped the bleeding with a 6-0 run of their own, but the Chippewas answered with three-straight three-pointers to take a 34-21 lead in into the half.
The Buckeyes tried to mount a third-quarter comeback, but they were met with a three-point barrage from Central Michigan. The Chippewas shot an absurd 7-for-8 from three-point range and 68 percent from the field to all-but bury Ohio State.
Not willing to quit, the Buckeyes made a run in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to 14, but it was too little, too late. Ohio State eventually conceded – allowing its seniors to leave to an ovation. The Buckeyes fell 95-78, ending their season in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The loss ends Ohio State's season, giving the Buckeyes a final record of 27-7. Ohio State finished the season as the Big Ten's regular season and tournament champions and made the NCAA Tournament for a third-straight season.