No. 16 Ohio State loses at final buzzer, falls 76-74 No. 7 Maryland

Bailey Johnson
The Columbus Dispatch
Feb. 24, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA; 
Ohio State Buckeyes forward Taylor Thierry (2) is guarded by Maryland Terrapins guard Abby Meyers (10) and Maryland Terrapins guard Elisa Pinzan (12) during the first half of Thursday's basketball game at Value City Arena.
Mandatory Credit: Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch

Through the first 19 games of the season, the Ohio State women's basketball team was on a roll. The Buckeyes absorbed injuries to Jacy Sheldon and Madison Greene and somehow kept winning.

That luck ran out a month ago, when Iowa handed Ohio State its first loss. Suddenly, what had started as a dream season — 19 straight wins for the second time in program history, and the team's best start ever — began to fall apart. The Buckeyes lost to Indiana, Purdue, Maryland and Indiana again over the course of three weeks, managing to win only against the bottom feeders of the Big Ten.

But after a win at No. 12 Michigan on Monday, Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff felt something different about his team. The Buckeyes were getting back to the form that carried them through the first 19 games of the season.

On Friday at Value City Arena, in a rematch against the No. 7 Terrapins after losing by 36 points on Feb. 5, No. 16 Ohio State came within a split-second of seeing its luck return. Freshman forward Cotie McMahon's last-second putback was ruled to have left her hand just after the buzzer sounded, giving Maryland the 76-74 win rather than forcing overtime.

But after being dominated by the Terrapins in the first meeting, Friday's loss was markedly different. The Buckeyes went toe-to-toe with Maryland for all 40 minutes, coming up just short in the end.

"I told them it should really, really hurt," McGuff said. "When you invest as much energy, effort, togetherness into a game and you don’t get the win, it’s really hard. It should hurt. That’s the tough part of college athletics.

"But we walked out of College Park three weeks ago and didn’t compete, quite frankly. We shouldn’t have felt bad about ourselves. We shouldn’t have felt angry that we didn’t win, because we didn’t put enough into it. Tonight, we put enough into it to win. They just made a couple more plays than we did. That was the difference."

It's a cliché at this time of year that all tightly-contested, intense games feel like March Madness, but Friday's ending would not have been out of place in the NCAA Tournament. Maryland's largest lead was seven points, midway through the second quarter, and Ohio State's largest lead was five, late in the third quarter.

Both teams had scoreless droughts of two-plus minutes late in the fourth quarter, but the droughts came with the Terrapins ahead 75-73, and that was enough to make the difference. McMahon was fouled with 2:38 left and made one free throw, cutting the lead to 75-74, but that shot was the last Ohio State made.

"We had chances," McGuff said. "We had some decent shots. They made one more shot than us. Disappointed that we didn’t get the win, but proud of our effort."

With 11.3 seconds left and the Terrapins still leading 75-74, Maryland's Abby Meyers went to the free throw line and made one of the two shots, putting Maryland ahead by two. Rikki Harris was fouled on the inbound play and stepped to the line, but she missed both shots. McMahon came up with the offensive rebound and missed a layup under the basket, but the ball stayed with Ohio State with 5.9 seconds left.

Maryland poked the ball out of bounds, forcing the Buckeyes to reset with 4.7 seconds left on the clock. Taylor Thierry's jump shot bounced off the rim, and McMahon elevated for a putback at the buzzer, which would have forced overtime.

The Buckeyes maintained brief hope for a moment, but officials ruled that McMahon's shot went in just after the final buzzer sounded. Despite the two that didn't count, McMahon finished with a team-high 20 points.

"I just think we just need to get a little bit better," McGuff said. "We had a couple miscommunications, a couple transition defense errors that we didn’t get tonight. Just taking away those and really shoring that up. It was a one-possession game tonight, so they all matter."

With the loss, Ohio State ends the regular season 23-6 overall and 12-6 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes secured the No. 4 seed for the Big Ten Tournament with the win over Michigan on Monday, so their next game will be Friday in Minneapolis in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.

"I think we were in a bit of a funk, but I think in the last week, 10 days, we’ve played much better," McGuff said. "We’ve been kind of where we need to be. Now, we need to get a little bit of rest and kind of sharpen up some things before we head to Minneapolis."

Feb. 24, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA; 
 Ohio State Buckeyes guard Taylor Mikesell (24) is recognized on Senior Night before Thursday's basketball game against the Maryland Terrapins at Value City Arena.
Mandatory Credit: Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch

Taylor Mikesell honored before final Ohio State home game

Prior to the game, senior guard Taylor Mikesell was the lone player honored for Senior Night. An Ohio State spokesperson said Mikesell being the only player honored is not indicative of other players who have eligibility remaining choosing to use that year; conversations about their returns have not yet been had.

It was clearly an emotional evening for Mikesell, who watched a video of her teammates expressing what she'd meant to them before walking onto the court with her parents and brother.

Mikesell's college basketball journey began at Maryland, followed by one year at Oregon — a year that was deeply challenging for Mikesell — before the Massillon native returned to Ohio to finish her collegiate career. In just two years at Ohio State, she holds sixth place in program history in 3-pointers made, and she achieved both 2,000 career points and 1,000 points as a Buckeye earlier this year.

On Friday, she went 4-of-9 from the perimeter and 6-of-16 overall to finish with 18 points. Mikesell also recorded three assists and a steal while playing all 40 minutes.

"Coming back home meant a little more to me after having made it through what I made it through," Mikesell said. "Just thankful for McGuff and the coaching staff for taking me in, kind of not really knowing the baggage I had coming in mentally or even if I was going to be able to play the year I came in. Just credit to him and the rest of the coaching staff for bringing me in here."


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