Ohio State women's basketball falls to Michigan in top-15 showdown
Ohio State’s women’s basketball team kept neck and neck with Michigan for a half on Sunday afternoon.
Then it unraveled.
A low-scoring third quarter doomed the Buckeyes as they were dealt a 75-66 defeat by the Wolverines at the Crisler Center, their second loss in three games, which further endangered their hopes for a Big Ten regular-season championship.
Trailing by four points early in the second half, the Buckeyes fell farther behind as Michigan mounted a 10-0 run over a span of three minutes and kept ahead by a comfortable margin.
“That definitely gave them momentum,” Buckeyes guard Jacy Sheldon said, “which we had trouble coming back from.”
At several moments, forward Naz Hillman proved tough to contain. She led the Wolverines with 27 points and eight rebounds, and toward the end of the mid-third quarter run showed her strength around the basket.
When guard Amy Dilk missed a driving layup, Hillman boxed out a pair of Ohio State players to grab the rebound and put a layup back in.
In the teams’ previous meeting last month, the junior forward from Cleveland scored a school-record 50 points before the Buckeyes ultimately prevailed in an 81-77 win. They tried a zone defense to limit Hillman as they met in Ann Arbor for a rematch, but the results were mixed, prompting them to later revert to a man-to-man defense.
“She’s a tremendous player and a really hard matchup,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “That was probably the reason we played a little bit more zone, just to try to crowd her around the basket. She was still very good. Obviously last game was an extraordinary point total, but she was very good.”
Ohio State, which slipped to 13-4 and 9-4 in the conference, was without a similarly strong showing from its frontcourt counterpart in Dorka Juhasz.
Along with 12 rebounds, Juhasz scored only one point, missing all eight shot attempts.
Juhasz had been averaging almost 16 points per game as the team’s second-leading scorer prior to Sunday’s tip-off.
Sheldon led the team with 26 points, including making a career-high six three-point attempts, but only two other players finished in double-figures.
The Buckeyes shot 40.4 percent, and they were especially limited by 17 turnovers on the offensive end.
It was the first loss for Ohio State in the rivalry since 2019, having won all three previous games, including a season sweep last season.
Their latest meeting was a matchup of top-15 teams, as Michigan had risen to No. 11 in last week’s Associated Press poll, while the Buckeyes were ranked at No. 15.
While behind by as many as 19 points late in the third quarter and trailing by double-digits for most of the second half, the Buckeyes cut the margin to as little as six points with 1:49 left.
A 9-0 run over a span of less than 90 seconds allowed them to trail only by a 67-61 margin before a basket by Hillman snapped the stretch. Hillman re-entered the game after previously heading to the bench as Michigan sought to rest some of its starters.
“We fought really hard down the stretch,” McGuff said. “We started pressing. We kind of got the game going the way we wanted it. I was proud of the fact we continued to fight and play really hard to the very end.”
Two of the baskets scored during the run came by the way of turnovers from Wolverines.
Starting point guard Madison Greene was unavailable for the second consecutive game, prompting freshman Kateri Poole to remain in her place in the starting lineup.
The Buckeyes held their only lead late in the second quarter with 2:33 left in the second quarter. Free throws from Poole put them ahead by a point.
It lasted 34 seconds before a basket by Hillman put Michigan ahead for good.