No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes outlast No. 21 Iowa Hawkeyes on the road in an instant classic

Jacob Myers
The Columbus Dispatch
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, right, gets tangled up with Ohio State guard Braxtin Miller (10) during a NCAA Big Ten Conference women's basketball game, Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

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It’s a shame Ohio State and Iowa only played four quarters in what might have been the best game in the Big Ten — maybe all of NCAA women’s basketball — this season. 

The Buckeyes and Hawkeyes each shot at an incredibly high clip, while Iowa star Caitlin Clark had one of the premier, single-game performances in the program’s history. But it took until the final minutes for the game to be decided.

With seven lead changes in the fourth quarter, Ohio State forward Tanaya Beachem made the game-winning shot with 56.1 seconds left and the No. 23 Buckeyes (16-4, 8-3 Big Ten) came back to beat the No. 21 Hawkeyes (14-5, 8-2) in Iowa City, 92-88. 

After Beachem gave the Buckeyes the 88-87 lead, guard Rikki Harris forced Clark into an awkward, scoop shot from 10 feet out that was rebounded by Harris. Taylor Mikesell, who led the Buckeyes with 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting, made both free throws to put Ohio State up three. 

With one last chance, Clark missed a deep 3-point attempt but Iowa got the ball back as it went out of bounds. Ohio State quickly fouled Kate Martin with five seconds remaining to prevent Clark from getting another look. After she made the first attempt, Martin missed the second shot on purpose for an attempt at an offensive rebound. But the Buckeyes secured the ball and the team’s second ranked win of the month. 

"It was an incredible game," said Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff. "Both teams played at a very high level, especially in the offensive end. Both teams made huge plays. We were just fortunate enough to make a few more down the stretch.” 

Clark finished the game with 43 points on 16-of-28 shooting and was 7 of 14 from beyond the arc with seven assists. She entered the game leading the NCAA with 25.5 points and 8.1 assists per game. 

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) reacts after making a 3-point basket during a NCAA Big Ten Conference women's basketball game against Ohio State, Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

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Iowa forward Monika Czinano added 23 for the Hawkeyes, while Jacy Sheldon scored 20 for Ohio State. Rebeka Mikulasikova and Braxtin Miller were also in double digits with 17 and 10 points, respectively. 

For the game, Ohio State shot 56% from the field and made 11-of-24 3-pointers. Iowa shot 61% and made 10-of-20 shots from deep.

It was remarkable that either team kept pace with the other’s scoring. From the opening minutes, Ohio State and Iowa lit it up from the floor. Mikulasikova made her first five shots including an improbable four 3-pointers in the first six minutes of the game. She had made only seven 3-pointers this season and scored a combined 16 points in her last three games. 

Ohio State made seven of its first nine 3-pointers, but the game was only tied at 33 at that point. Clark continued to make uncontested shots and drive to the paint while Czinano dominated the interior. Still, the Buckeyes hung tough, even after Iowa jumped to a 55-46 lead in the opening minutes of the second half. 

The moment where Ohio State could have been buried occurred when Clark drilled a 3, then answered a bucket from Beachem with a layup of her own for a 66-59 lead with 1:30 remaining. However, Beachem scored again, and Sheldon and Miller ripped the ball away from Clark for a lay-in to cut the deficit to three. After some smack talk and two free throws from Clark, Mikesell splashed a 3 from the right wing to end the quarter down just two points. 

Sheldon immediately gave the Buckeyes a spark in the fourth quarter with a triple, and Harris converted a lay-up through contact for a 71-68 lead. 

McGuff and Mikesell said after losing to Michigan at home last week, the team refocused on offense and got back to executing their system. 

“I’m just super proud of how we fought, especially bouncing back after the game we had last Thursday,” Mikesell said. “I think we showed a lot of fight and what our team can look like. That was a good way to get back on track.” 

Away from home against another ranked team that only had one conference loss entering the night, it seemed like at any point when Iowa kept answering Ohio State on the other end that the Buckeyes would fold. But that would have ignored the effort they exhibited through the first three quarters of one of the most memorable games of the year. 

“We needed to be really good to win this one,” McGuff said. “It just showed our progress.” 

jmyers@dispatch.com

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