The night before the Countdown to Columbus showcase at Nationwide Arena, Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz made an important observation about the pair of games between ranked teams.
“Nobody’s going to win a national title tomorrow night,” he said.
No. 5 Ohio State left the site of the 2018 Final Four on Sunday knowing it can compete with top 10 teams, but that it has plenty of work to do if it wants to return to Nationwide Arena in late March.
That work will start on the defensive end.
Louisville’s Asia Durr scored 47 points, including 13 in overtime, as the Cardinals defeated the Buckeyes 95-90 in front of 9,711 at Nationwide Arena.
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“We’ve been around a while, so it’s a lot of stuff that we allowed to happen today that we can’t allow to happen seeing that we’ve been around for four years,” senior guard Kelsey Mitchell said. “But it happens. We all lace up the same way and we just know we’ve got a lot of the year left and we can change some of the things we messed up today and turn the page.”
A pair of Durr free throws with 1:22 left in overtime gave the Cardinals (2-0) a 91-87 lead. She made another two with fewer than 20 seconds left and two more with 4.4 seconds to go to close out the game. Asia Doss made a three at the buzzer, but was only one that cut the deficit to five points.
Mitchell poured it on late in regulation, making back-to-back threes to cut Louisville’s lead to 78-74 with 3:57 to play. Two free throws made it 78-76 less than a minute later. Another three with 2:32 remaining gave the Buckeyes their first lead since the start of the third quarter.
With less than 10 seconds left, Stephanie Mavunga came up with a key block, giving the Buckeyes the ball back for one final possession.
Mitchell drew a foul near midcourt with 4.5 seconds to play. She made her first free throw but missed the second and the game headed into overtime tied at 80.
Mitchell led the Buckeyes (1-1) with 26 points. Linnae Harper had 21 and Asia Doss contributed 19.
Durr had 15 points in the third quarter to give Louisville a 66-58 lead with 10 minutes to play. She found her rhythm early, scoring 17 first-half points, and continued to give the Buckeyes headaches.
“One of the keys was we allowed her to get comfortable early and because of that she stayed in that zone,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said of Durr. “That was the thing if we could go back and do some things differently to start the game, that would put her in a different place, but we didn’t and she took advantage of it.”
Ohio State gave Louisville a few too many open three-point looks Sunday. It struggled to create enough movement in the first half to free up Mitchell and was out-rebounded 47-29 after dominating the glass Friday against No. 10 Stanford.
There were key weaknesses in Sunday’s loss, but ones the Buckeyes have a few months to fix.