Ohio State women's basketball can't complete late rally against Indiana, exit Big Ten tourney in semifinals

Jacob Myers
The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State's Jacy Sheldon led all scorers with 22 points, but the Buckeyes fell to Indiana in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament 70-62.

INDIANAPOLIS — There were only two Big Ten teams that No. 1 seed Ohio State had failed to beat this season entering the Big Ten tournament: Michigan and Saturday’s opponent, Indiana. 

OSU hadn’t played the Hoosiers since losing by 20 points at home on Dec. 12 when the rotation had yet to be set, and the team was still learning how to cope with the season-ending injury of point guard Madison Greene. The Buckeyes had grown since then, and they were eager to prove it. 

The Hoosiers were still too tough. 

Shooting just 4 for 21 from 3-point range, the Buckeyes bowed out of the Big Ten tournament with a 70-62 loss in the semifinals Saturday in front of a crowd at Gainbridge Fieldhouse that heavily favored Indiana. 

"Obviously it didn't turn out the way we wanted it to,” guard Braxtin Miller said. “Sometimes the shots just didn't fall for us, but that will happen. I was really proud of the way we pushed through that.” 

Unlike the first meeting, Ohio State was able to hang around until the game's waning moments. 

Jacy Sheldon finished at the rim to cut the Indiana lead to 68-62 with 58.2 seconds remaining. On the next possession, freshman Taylor Thierry caused another Indiana turnover on a jump ball to give the Buckeyes a chance to make it a one-possession game. 

Ohio State guard Rikki Harris (1) shoots under Indiana guard Chloe Moore-McNeil (22) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big Ten Conference tournament in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Taylor Mikesell, one of the nation’s top 3-point shooters, got the ball on the right wing but was well guarded as she hoisted a shot that only grazed the front of the rim. Rebeka Mikulasikova attempted to grab it but couldn’t hold on. 

Ohio State got another chance by forcing a turnover with the press. The ball landed right at the feet of Kateri Poole to the right of the basket, but she missed the layup. Indiana point guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary grabbed the rebound and made her two resulting free throws to send the Buckeyes home. 

"Kind of sums of the day. Just missed opportunities,” coach Kevin McGuff said. “Indiana's a great team, and they're great defensively, but even with that, I thought we got enough opportunities. We didn't capitalize, and they made the most of their chances — more so than we did.”

Sheldon led all scorers with 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting, but she was 0-for-5 from 3-point range and hasn’t made a 3-pointer since facing Maryland on Feb. 17. Mikesell had just 12 points 

McGuff was worried about his offense’s execution against Indiana’s half-court defense. Early on that wasn’t an issue. But the Buckeyes couldn’t stop Indiana either. 

Both teams got off to a roaring start, combining to shoot 12 of 21 from the field in the opening half of the first quarter. But Ohio State wasn’t able to knock down open looks from beyond the arc, which persisted throughout the game. 

Making matters worse, the Buckeyes got little help from their post players, mostly due to foul trouble. Thierry picked up two fouls in just 46 seconds of action in the first quarter. Tanaya Beacham, who had 15 points and eight rebounds in Friday’s win over Michigan State, played only 15 minutes and fouled out with 3:20 left. She scored just two points with three rebounds. 

Mikulasikova picked up four fouls in 24 minutes and was constantly beaten in the post while struggling to get position for rebounds. 

"(Foul trouble) certainly was a problem for us today,” McGuff said. “I think it kind of hurt some of them trying to get into a good rhythm in and out, fouls and all that type of stuff.” 

Ohio State now turns its attention to the NCAA tournament and the selection show next weekend. The Buckeyes likely won’t hang their heads after showing significant improvement from the first meeting against the Hoosiers. However, they might feel the game was there for them to win. 

"They're a great defensive team, but I think we got a lot of the looks that we wanted to tonight and we couldn't make them today,” Sheldon said. “That happens.”