No. 3 Ohio State pulls off wild comeback to beat South Florida 88-86 in overtime
Taylor Mikesell hadn't made a three all game.
The senior guard, typically one of the most consistent perimeter shooters in the country, had just five points for No. 3 Ohio State as it trailed by three points in the waning seconds of overtime against South Florida. Mikesell was 1-of-12 from the floor and 0-of-6 from beyond the arc when she lined up what turned out to be her final shot of the game.
And for the first time all night, Mikesell's shot swished through the net, tying the game. Eboni Walker blocked a shot at the other end of the floor, and the ball came to Cotie McMahon on the fast break with Taylor Thierry. McMahon fed Thierry for the game-winning layup, which capped off an 88-86 comeback win for the Buckeyes at the San Diego Invitational — in a game they trailed by as many as 18 points.
Ohio State (12-0) led for just 54 seconds, and six of those were the final seconds of the game after Thierry's layup. McMahon led the team with a career-high 30 points and Thierry added 23. Mikesell finished with a season-low eight points, but her 3-pointer with 15 seconds left was crucial for the victory.
"Very proud of her for also having a lot of faith in herself," McMahon said. "This is what she does. I'm glad she shot that shot, and she was very confident with it."
As has become a theme this season, the Buckeyes got off to a slow start in the first half and the Bulls (10-4) took full advantage. They led 21-11 after the first quarter and grew the lead to 18 early in the second quarter. Ohio State improved slightly from there, but it could only get within nine points by halftime.
It took until the fourth quarter for the Buckeyes to tie things up, first at 64 points apiece and then again at 67. But less than 20 seconds after Ohio State tied the game at 67 with 3:43 left in the fourth quarter, guard Madison Greene suffered an injury to her left leg.
Greene had to be helped off the court while not putting any weight on her left leg, and the emotion of the injury was evident for both Greene and her teammates. Greene missed the entire 2021-22 season with a knee injury, and that injury was top of mind for the Buckeyes when they saw Greene go down once again.
Coach Kevin McGuff didn't have an immediate update on Greene's status after the game, but any time she misses will be a blow to a team already playing without Jacy Sheldon, who is week-to-week with a lower leg injury. The injury could have been a death blow to the Buckeyes' comeback hopes in Tuesday's game, but her tearful teammates used the moment as a rallying point.
"We had no choice but to finish the game for her," McMahon said. "That's what we came out there and did. No matter what it took, we were all going to do it."
McMahon made two free throws with 39 seconds left to tie the game once again, and South Florida missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer which sent the game to overtime.
In overtime, the Bulls stretched out to a six-point lead with 1:12 left to play. But after a timeout by McGuff, the Buckeyes found a way to score eight points in those final 72 seconds and complete the comeback.
"(Mikesell) has the green light for us," McGuff said. "She's got a lot of confidence in herself. She didn't shoot it throughout the game as well as she normally does, but she certainly made a huge one at the end."
Tuesday was the second relatively cold game for Mikesell in a row, after a 5-of-13 performance Friday against Albany. But with Tuesday's win, Ohio State will face No. 16 Oregon — Mikesell's former school — on Wednesday in a matchup that Mikesell's teammates have been hoping for since they first knew it was a possibility.
McMahon's ear-to-ear grin said it all when she was asked about facing the Ducks.
"I'm so excited," McMahon said. "We really wanted to play Oregon for T-Mike because she really wants to play Oregon, and you know the history with that. We're going to play Oregon tomorrow."