Women's basketball: No. 11 Ohio State holds on behind Sheldon's 29 points for 92-87 win over Iowa
A slow start was not the harbinger for a long evening that inevitably ended in defeat. Jacy Sheldon made sure of that.
Sheldon scored 11 of Ohio State’s first 14 points to overcome an early seven-point deficit against the Iowa Hawkeyes, and the Buckeyes never trailed again in a must-win game to stay within one loss of Maryland and Michigan atop the Big Ten Conference standings.
But the Buckeyes needed Sheldon again in the final quarter as Iowa trimmed a 16-point deficit to five and threatened to erase it all. After being held scoreless in the third quarter, Sheldon calmly converted 8-of-9 free throws in a 14-point quarter that kept Ohio State at a multi-possession lead.
"She was really efficient offensively, and she got out in transition which allowed her to get to the rim, allowed her to get to the free-throw line,” coach Kevin McGuf said. “Overall, really good performance by her on offense.”
Following a double-digit loss at Northwestern earlier in the week in which it shot less than 30%, No. 11 Ohio State (11-2, 7-2) shot 47.8% from the floor and took down the Iowa Hawkeyes (10-5, 6-5) on Thursday night at Value City Arena 92-87.
"Our main focus was refocusing (after the loss), talking about what we need to accomplish this game,” Sheldon said. “Iowa plays zone, too, so I think we definitely did a great job of kind of fixing what we did against Northwestern and putting that into play tonight."
Sheldon scored a career-high 29 points. Forward Dorka Juhasz had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
It took overtime and a gritty defensive effort by Madison Greene on one of the nation’s best freshman players in Caitlin Clark to beat the Hawkeyes on Jan. 13. Clark scored 30 points on Thursday against the Buckeyes on 10-of-21 shooting, but was just 4 of 14 from 3-point range and never got into a rhythm that put Ohio State in danger.
"We want to crowd her and try to make it tough on her, but we certainly didn't want the other people to get going either,” McGuff said.
Ohio State opened the game as if the team never left Northwestern. After three straight turnovers to open the game and already down 9-2, McGuff called a timeout. That resettled the Buckeyes, which quickly erased the lead less than three minutes later on back-to-back threes from Sheldon and Greene, who finished with 12 points.
With 5:30 left in the third quarter, Ohio State took its largest lead of the game on a 3-pointer from freshman Gabby Hutcherson. Iowa then closed the quarter on a 20-10 run and made its final five shots and seven straight free throws.
Clark hit a jumper with 7:28 remaining to cut the Ohio State lead to 69-65 and force the Buckeyes to earn a victory. Sheldon responded with her first bucket since the first half and converted the three-point play.
Iowa never got closer than the final five-point difference, and Ohio State effectively put a loss behind them in a tight Big Ten race.
"I don't think we played well as a team last game,” said forward Aaliyah Patty, who scored 15 points. “Coming into this game focused, ready to win, I think it was very important to show that comeback mentality.”