Ohio State Women's Basketball Beats Michigan For Third Time This Season, 81-79, to Advance to Big Ten Tournament Semifinals

By Chase Brown on March 3, 2023 at 5:13 pm
Cotie McMahon
Barbara J. Perenic / Columbus Dispatch

It's hard to beat a team three times in a row, but that's exactly what Ohio State did when it defeated Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals Friday.

After sweeping the regular-season series between the programs, the fourth-seeded Buckeyes beat the No. 5 seed Wolverines, 81-79, behind a 28-point, 12-rebound, four-assist effort from Big Ten Freshman of the Year Cotie McMahon.

Team 1 2 3 4 FINAL
#4 OHIO STATE 24 23 18 16 81
#5 MICHIGAN 22 17 22 18 79

Taylor Thierry had 20 points and Taylor Mikesell added 16 to help Ohio State secure the victory. In only her second appearance since Nov. 30, Jacy Sheldon made a statement in her return for the Buckeyes, collecting five points, two assists and one steal in limited minutes.

With the win, Ohio State advances to face top-seeded Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The teams met twice in the regular season. The Hoosiers won the first matchup in Bloomington on Jan. 26 (83-59), and the second in Columbus on Feb. 13 (78-65), indicating Indiana may have Ohio State's number. But, as mentioned above, it's hard to beat a team three times in a row.

First Quarter

Michigan scored the game's first points as Jordan Hobbs converted a rare four-point play, connecting on a 3-pointer despite a foul from Rikki Harris. However, Ohio State was not fazed by the early two-possession deficit, as the Buckeyes battled back and forth with the Wolverines and went on multiple runs to end the quarter with a two-point lead, 24-22.

Sheldon checked into the contest for the first time at the seven-minute mark. The Dublin, Ohio, native made an immediate impact with an assist to McMahon, who converted on a 3-pointer from the corner, and a steal that led to a score for the Buckeyes. Sheldon checked out after two minutes of action.

While Sheldon's help in the frame was limited, McMahon's was not. The freshman phenom played all 10 minutes of the first for Ohio State, making four of six shots for a team-best 11 points, three rebounds and an assist. Thierry and Mikesell also added six and five points, respectively.

Second Quarter

Despite Rebeka Mikulasikova and Harris picking up their second fouls early in the second quarter, Ohio State extended its lead to nine points and entered the intermission with a 47-39 advantage over Michigan.

81 POINTS 79
31-59 (52.5%) FGM-FGA (PCT.) 29-68 (42.6%)
8-15 (53.3%) 3PM-3PA (PCT.) 5-17 (29.4%)
11-13 (84.6%) FTM-FTA (PCT.) 16-21 (76.2%)

While Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff opted to keep Mikulasikova on the bench until the second half in favor of Eboni Walker, he allowed Harris to stay on the floor and play through her foul trouble. McGuff's decision paid off for the Buckeyes, as Harris started to heat up as the quarter continued, making a 3-pointer and collecting three defensive rebounds that eventually turned into points for her teammates.

Once again, Sheldon entered the game briefly for Ohio State early in the quarter. And once again, she made her presence felt on both ends of the floor. The veteran guard helped force a turnover and added her second assist in the contest before returning to the bench after two minutes. She later returned to the floor and helped the Buckeyes close the first half on a 6-2 run.

Thierry paced Ohio State with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting in the second frame with a 2-of-2 mark from the free throw line. She also collected two assists and an offensive rebound. Mikesell (four) and McMahon (three) combined to contribute seven points for the Buckeyes in the quarter.

Ohio State went into the break shooting an impressive 58.6% from the floor with a 75% clip from behind the arc, while Michigan connected on 45.5% of its shots and 42.9% of its threes.

Third Quarter 

McMahon looked poised to take over the third quarter for Ohio State as she scored the team's first points through contact, shaking her head and clapping her hands in celebration.

Michigan managed to keep the Centerville, Ohio, native at bay for a few minutes after that bucket. Still, McMahon emerged with force as the quarter neared its end, converting two layups with swift spin moves inside the paint – the second for an old-school three-point play. McMahon finished the quarter with eight points, five rebounds and one assist.

Thierry continued her quietly-dominant performance in the third frame, scoring six points on 3-of-4 shooting and adding three rebounds with an assist. The only downside was that she committed three fouls, forcing McGuff to find her a spot on the bench in the final minutes.

The third quarter was the best for the Wolverines, which connected on eight of their 18 shots and six of their eight free throws to cut the Ohio State lead to four points, 65-61, as the teams entered the final quarter.

Fourth Quarter

Ohio State and Michigan traded several blows in the final quarter, which made for an entertaining last 10 minutes in Minneapolis.

Luckily for the Buckeyes, McMahon remained the best on the court and willed her team to victory. She was a force in all aspects of the game, collecting points, rebounds, blocks and steals in the fourth to carry Ohio State to a win.

Mikesell and Sheldon were also crucial to the team's efforts to pull away from the Wolverines in the fourth. Mikesell made several crucial baskets from the start of the quarter to its end, but Sheldon had arguably the most important field goal for Ohio State – a 3-pointer from 22 feet that ended up being the difference for the Buckeyes.

Game Notes

  • Despite having Jacy Sheldon and Rebeka Mikulasikova available, Kevin McGuff selected Rikki Harris, Taylor Thierry, Taylor Mikesell, Eboni Walker and Cotie McMahon to start for the Buckeyes. That lineup has started for Ohio State for the last five games.
  • This week, Cotie McMahon was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year for her efforts this season. Additionally, Taylor Mikesell, Taylor Thierry and McMahon received All-Big Ten recognition, with Mikesell on the first team and Thierry and McMahon on the second team.
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