No. 6 Ohio State women's basketball shocks No. 3 LSU Tigers, advances to Sweet 16

Sheldon: "We stayed together. We relied on each other. I'm super proud and it's awesome. But we're not done yet."

Jacob Myers
The Columbus Dispatch

Four years and two days since Ohio State lost on its home floor and was knocked out of its last NCAA Tournament in the final game of the Kelsey Mitchell era, the Buckeyes clinched their spot in the Sweet 16 by silencing a crowd on the road.

Led by 23 points and eight assists from Jacy Sheldon and 18 points from Taylor Mikesell, No. 6 seed Ohio State (25-6) found its shooting stroke in the second quarter and stifled the No. 3 seed LSU (26-6) with excellent half-court defense to stun the Tigers with a 79-64 win at Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Monday night. 

"I'm super proud of our whole team," Sheldon said. "We stayed together. That's a tough environment to play in. We stayed together. We relied on each other. I'm super proud and it's awesome. But we're not done yet."

Mar 21, 2022; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Lady Tigers guard Khayla Pointer (3) dribbles against Ohio State Buckeyes guard Braxtin Miller (10) during the first half at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State works through slow start to defeat LSU

After surviving a scare against Missouri State in the first round, Ohio State withstood a slow start shooting the ball by turning LSU over seven times and out-rebounding the bigger and more physical Tigers in the first quarter.

The Buckeyes started to find their stroke in the second quarter before a third quarter created enough distance between them and the Tigers to withstand a late LSU comeback. LSU had only six turnovers after the first quarter and forced 20 turnovers, but the Buckeyes still were effective enough to hold LSU to 36.8%.

Khayla Pointer led the Tigers with 32 points on 12-of-30 shooting. Ohio State shot 48.8% for the game. But what was perhaps the difference for the Buckeyes was that they out-rebounded LSU 43-36, despite having a negative rebounding margin entering the tournament.

"I told them about five times yesterday, told them at shootaround today, told them before the game, if we were going to win the game, we were going to have to fight like hell on every possession when the shot went up to get the ball back," Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. "And we did. We fought on every possession. That's where I'd tell them I'm most proud of our effort tonight."

The Buckeyes will play No. 2 seed Texas on Friday in Spokane, Washington.

Mar 21, 2022; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes guard Taylor Mikesell (24) looks to pass the ball against LSU Lady Tigers guard Jailin Cherry (1) during the first half at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Three-pointers boost Ohio State in second quarter against LSU

Mikesell hit a 3-pointer as the first-quarter clock expired that extended the lead to 15-8 and seemed to be the catalyst to the Buckeyes’ shooting woes. Ohio State made five 3-pointers in the second quarter to hold off a much-improved quarter from LSU and take an eight-point lead into halftime, before exploding in the third quarter. 

Back-to-back layups by Rikki Harris — off an offensive rebound — and Sheldon to start the quarter forced LSU coach Kim Mulkey to take a timeout. But it didn’t matter. The Buckeyes had an answer for any time the crowd tried to will the Tigers back into the game. 

After Mikesell hit a triple to take a 47-28 lead — the largest lead of the game to that point — LSU raced up the court and scored a layup in transition. But seconds later, Mikesell finished a layup on the other end and screamed toward the Ohio State bench. 

Late in the third quarter, LSU’s press began to disrupt Ohio State and create turnovers. But as the crowd began to get back into the game, Mikesell stole the ball from Pointer on the drive and threw it ahead to Tanaya Beacham for a layup.

Moments later, with 1:34 remaining, Sheldon hit her second consecutive 3-pointer to give Ohio State its biggest lead of the night at 57-33. 

The Buckeyes made 1-of-4 tries from 3-point range in the first quarter and went on to make nine of their next 18 shots from beyond the arc.

"That three at the end of the first quarter I thought was really big, just to really help us feel good about the momentum we built in the first quarter," McGuff said.

Mar 21, 2022; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes guard Jacy Sheldon (4) dribbles against LSU Lady Tigers guard Jailin Cherry (1) during the first half at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Buckeyes embrace underdog role

Even up 20 entering the final frame, the Buckeyes were on their heels as LSU deployed their press. The Tigers had a chance to cut the deficit to single digits with 1:11 remaining, but Jailin Cherry missed an uncontested layup.

Throughout the season, the Ohio State players have thought of themselves as underdogs. That mentality carried the Buckeyes to their first Sweet 16 since 2017, and an impressive win for McGuff over one of the sport's coaching legends.

"The number by your school doesn't really matter," Mikesell said. "It's how you show up and play those 40 minutes."

jmyers@dispatch.com

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