No. 18 Ohio State women's basketball can't stop Syracuse, upset for first loss of season

Jacob Myers
The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon (4) drives to the basket between Syracuse guard Christianna Carr (43) and guard Teisha Hyman (5) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Syracuse, N.Y., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

The No. 18 Ohio State women’s basketball team had yet to play a road game this season. And it showed.

After jumping out to a 15-3 lead against a Syracuse team that was picked 13th in the ACC preseason poll and had been blown out by two other ranked teams this season, Ohio State struggled to get stops on the defensive end and lost its first game of the season, 97-91. 

The Buckeyes (5-1) entered the game with the nation’s top offense, averaging almost 90 points per game against a weak schedule. A flurry of points late in the fourth quarter as the Buckeyes tried to come back from a 13-point deficit with 2:10 remaining made the offense look a bit better than what it was. 

But overall, in the Carrier Dome on Wednesday night, Ohio State was humbled ahead of its Big Ten opener on Sunday at Purdue. 

Coach Kevin McGuff said his team stopped playing as hard as it did to get out to the early double-digit lead, which allowed Syracuse to gain some confidence that never stopped. 

“I think we could’ve stolen that from them if we just played as hard as we did at the start of the game,” McGuff said. “I told them in the locker room, you’re not going to go on the road and beat an ACC team if we’re not the hardest playing team." 

Leading scorer Jacy Sheldon struggled to find good looks from the floor until late in the game. She made her first two 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter to bring the Buckeyes back to an 89-82 deficit. But on the next possession, Syracuse easily broke Ohio State’s press like the Orange had done throughout the game and scored a layup.  

In the final minute, Ohio State got a turnover trailing 93-86. Senior guard Taylor Mikesell, the Buckeyes’ best 3-point shooter, had her 3-point shot rattle in and out of the basket, narrowly missing a chance to cut the deficit to four points with 27 seconds left. 

Sheldon finished the game with 23 points. Mikesell had 21, and Rebeka Mikulasikova had 16 points — only four of which came after the first quarter. 

Once Ohio State was out to their early lead, it didn’t take long for Syracuse to take the lead back. Teisha Hyman scored two of her 30 points on a layup with 5:11 remaining in the second quarter to give the Orange a 29-27 lead. All game Hyman torched the Buckeyes, scoring a career high 20 points by the 8:03 mark in the third quarter. 

Ohio State entered halftime trailing 40-39 but still couldn’t prevent Syracuse from getting to the basket. McGuff had the Buckeyes switch to a zone, but Syracuse eventually found its way through that as well. 

Syracuse guard Naje Murray (10) is defended by Ohio State guard Kateri Poole (5) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Syracuse, N.Y., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

When Ohio State started to get hot from the floor, Syracuse answered right back. In a span of 1:41 late in the third quarter, both teams combined to make eight straight shots and exchange the lead three times before Syracuse took a commanding 65-58 leading into the fourth quarter. 

Then it was time for Chrislyn Carr to take over for Syracuse. She scored all 23 of her points in the fourth quarter to guide the Orange to an upset win. 

“We didn’t guard the ball off the dribble at all,” McGuff said. “We played a little zone to mix it up and I thought that was right at the time, then they got comfortable with that. So we tried to mix our defenses but the bottom line is we didn’t guard the ball well.” 

Frustration clearly boiled over when guard Kateri Poole was called for a foul and then given a technical for her reaction to the call. Carr made two free throws, then Hyman finished a second-chance opportunity to give Syracuse a 14-point lead with 3:18 remaining. 

It was the first taste of defeat for an Ohio State team that hadn’t won by fewer than 23 points this season entering the game. Mikesell said it has to be a lesson for the Buckeyes moving forward, especially ahead of another game away from home to open conference play. 

“We’re going to learn a lot from it," Mikesell said. “The best thing about it is we have another great road test on Sunday, so we don’t have a lot of time to sit around and be upset about it.”