Ohio State dominated by Iowa, Caitlin Clark in 105-72 Big Ten Tournament final loss
Ohio State was completely helpless.
A day after pulling off the largest comeback in Big Ten Tournament history, erasing a 24-point deficit against Indiana to advance to the championship game, the Buckeyes had no answer for Iowa. The game was close for the first five minutes. Then the Hawkeyes got on a roll, and there was nothing Ohio State could do about it.
The Buckeyes trailed by 17 points after the first quarter, by 37 at halftime, by 29 after the third quarter and by 33 when the final buzzer rang on the 105-72 loss in Minneapolis on Sunday.
"We just had a disastrous first half and they made us pay," OSU coach Kevin McGuff said. "They were so efficient on offense. They played great and deserved to win. We have to get back and kind of get our mojo back a little bit."
In the first 90 seconds of the game, Iowa turned the ball over three times, and Ohio State missed all three shots it created off those turnovers. Neither team was particularly efficient in the first five minutes, and the Buckeyes even took two leads — 4-3 at the 7:36 mark and 7-6 at the 6:03 mark — before the downward spiral began.
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark put her team back in the lead with a layup at 5:45 left in the first quarter, and it all fell apart for Ohio State from there. The Hawkeyes went on a 16-0 run over the next four minutes, and their run was only briefly interrupted by a layup from sophomore guard Taylor Thierry. The layup proved to be the only basket the Buckeyes made for the rest of the quarter, as Iowa rolled to a 26-9 lead through 10 minutes.
The second quarter was even more dominant for the Hawkeyes. Clark scored 12 points in the frame and dished out six assists, and forward Monika Czinano added 11 points of her own. Ohio State made just five baskets in the second quarter, shooting 27.8% from the floor, while Iowa scored at will, both around the rim and from 3-point range. Many of the Buckeyes' shots were open looks, but they proved incapable of knocking them down.
"Our competitive spirit wasn't where it's been for almost all of the season," McGuff said. "We missed some early shots and then just everything went away. All the things that we've worked on, talked on, all the things we were trying to do today, we were doing none of those, and Iowa was just making us pay big time."
For the majority of the first half, Clark single-handedly outperformed the Buckeyes. Through the first 20 minutes, she had 23 points and nine assists, and Ohio State had 24 points and seven assists.
The Buckeyes did shoot the ball better in the third quarter, as both senior guard Taylor Mikesell and freshman forward Cotie McMahon found their footing to contribute 11 and 10 points apiece, but it was too late for an improved offensive showing to put Iowa's lead in any doubt. Despite shooting 52.9% from the floor and making four threes on seven attempts, the closest Ohio State came in the third quarter was a 27-point deficit.
McGuff joked after Saturday's game that "everything" is personal to McMahon, and her rising frustration was evident in the second half. An intentional foul on Clark with 4:46 left was a sign of McMahon's frustrations boiling over, but McMahon kept herself mostly under control and used her anger as fuel, on her way to 16 second-half points and a total of 23.
"I wasn't getting some of the calls that I wanted," McMahon said. "I feel like I got to a point where I was extremely frustrated and I kind of just let myself go. It happens to the best of us, but it kind of motivated us a little bit to finish the game and play hard."
The Buckeyes outscored Iowa by four points in the second half, 48-44, but the hole from the first half was far too deep to climb out of. Clark completed a triple-double, her second in two games against the Buckeyes this year, to finish with 30 points, 17 assists and 10 rebounds.
In 2021, Iowa was on the losing side of the largest margin of victory in a Big Ten Tournament championship game as it lost by 20 to Maryland. Two years later, the Hawkeyes handed the same fate to Ohio State — in even more dominant fashion.
The Buckeyes have a week of practice ahead of them before they learn who their NCAA Tournament opponent will be. In ESPN's latest projected bracket, Ohio State was a No. 3 seed, which would mean the Buckeyes would host the first two rounds.
"I feel like all we can do is move on to the next," McMahon said. "We know what we need to work on. We have two weeks of practice to buckle down, take care of what we need to take care of and be ready to come out and play our game."