Ohio State women’s basketball completed a regular-season sweep of Michigan on Monday night.
The Buckeyes defeated the Wolverines on their home court in Ann Arbor, 74-61, to improve to 2-0 against their rivals this season and earn their first win over a ranked opponent since their 66-57 win over Michigan at the Covelli Center on Dec. 31.
After losing their last four games against ranked opponents with two losses to Indiana and defeats to Iowa and Maryland, Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said Monday night’s win was “really important” to get momentum back on the Buckeyes’ side.
“I thought we looked different tonight,” McGuff said after the game. “I thought we we competed for 40 minutes, for sure, and played pretty well for most of the game.”
Rikki Harris was the star of the night for the Buckeyes, scoring a career-high 23 points and adding seven steals and five assists while starting at point guard in place of Jacy Sheldon, who remained sidelined with the foot injury that has caused her to miss 22 games this season.
“Rikki was just absolutely spectacular,” McGuff said. “Played her heart out, played with toughness, intensity, focus and just great leadership overall. Really proud of her.”
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The Buckeyes’ full-court press gave Michigan problems all night as the Wolverines turned the ball over 27 times.
“We looked way more energetic in the press. I thought that was really effective,” McGuff said. “Just our competitive spirit and will to get stops and rebounds was better.”
As had been the recent trend for the Buckeyes against top competition, Ohio State got off to a slow start, falling into a 10-2 hole quickly as the Wolverines made four of their first five shots including a pair of 3-pointers.
This time, however, the Buckeyes responded quickly by making four straight 3-pointers of their own, including two in one possession when a foul was called away from the ball on a Taylor Mikesell triple, which Taylor Thierry followed up with a long-range make. Eboni Walker followed up that run of threes with a steal and fast-break layup to give the Buckeyes their first lead of the game, 16-14, with 3:48 to play in the first quarter.
Ohio State finished the first quarter with a 24-17 lead. The Buckeyes made six of their seven first-quarter 3-point attempts – with Mikesell making three and Thierry making two – and had four first-quarter steals as Michigan turned it over seven times in the first 10 minutes.
Rebeka Mikulasikova – who came off the bench in her second game back from an ankle sprain – made Ohio State’s seventh three in eight tries to extend the Buckeyes’ lead to 10 points on their opening possession of the second quarter. Harris made the Buckeyes’ eighth straight 3-pointer on their next possession.
|28-60 (46.7%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||19-51 (37.3%)|
|10-19 (52.6%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||7-21 (33.3%)|
|8-12 (66.7%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||16-23 (69.6%)|
Leigha Brown just about singlehandedly carried Michigan back into the game by scoring 14 points in the second quarter, including 10 points in the first three minutes of the period. Jordan Hobbs also made a pair of 3-pointers for the Wolverines in period two, cutting the Buckeyes’ lead down to one point with her second three. But Harris had a big second quarter of her own for Ohio State, finishing the quarter with 12 points – all on three-point plays – to keep Ohio State ahead on the scoreboard with a 41-37 halftime lead.
The Buckeyes cooled off offensively in the third quarter, making just six of 18 shots from the field and one of six attempts from 3-point range, but still extended their lead to seven points as they held Michigan to just three made field goals and force nine turnovers in the first 10 minutes after halftime.
Michigan never made the game closer from there as Ohio State started the fourth quarter on a 7-2 run, including five more points from Harris, to build the lead to 12 points. The Buckeyes would lead by double digits for most of the fourth quarter before ultimately going on to win by 13.
Brown was exceptional in defeat for the Wolverines, scoring a career-high 36 points, but she didn‘t get enough help from her teammates, who combined for just 25 points.
The win secured a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament for Ohio State, who sits fourth in the conference standings with a 12-5 record in the Big Ten and just one more regular-season game to play against third-place Maryland on Friday at 6 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center. That game will be televised on Big Ten Network.
As the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, which will be played next week in Minneapolis, the Buckeyes could potentially face Michigan again next Friday in the quarterfinals, as the Wolverines are currently positioned to be the No. 5 seed in the tournament.
- Jacy Sheldon has now missed Ohio State’s last four consecutive games and all but one game since the start of December.
- Michigan guard Laila Phelia, the Wolverines’ second-leading scorer this season (17 points per game), also missed the game due to a lower-leg injury.
- Walker made her third consecutive start in place of Mikulasikova.
- Cotie McMahon earned her sixth Big Ten Freshman of the Week award, tying the school record previously set by Kelsey Mitchell, on Monday afternoon for her performances in the Buckeyes’ previous two games against Penn State and Indiana. She tallied seven points, eight rebounds and seven assists in Monday’s game.