“It’s like an orchestra. It’s like soft jazz music, it’s just so beautiful.”
That’s how Ohio State senior forward Shayla Cooper described her team’s offensive spark in its Senior Night upset over the No. 2 Maryland Terrapins.
The No. 12 Ohio State Buckeyes (24-5, 14-1) went to battle with the Terrapins (26-2, 14-1) for a chance to be in the driver’s seat for the Big Ten regular-season title in an electric atmosphere at the Schottenstein Center Monday night. Thanks to 31 points from junior point guard Kelsey Mitchell and 20 from Cooper, the Buckeyes upset the Terrapins 98-87.
In a do-or-die game for each team, the Buckeyes came out with the victory and the slight edge they needed to be in position to clinch the title next weekend.
Not only was the team fighting for a Big Ten title and top-10 upset, but for its lone senior Shayla Cooper in her final home game in a Buckeye uniform.
“It’s a big night,” Cooper said. “It’s Senior Night, it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Night. The crowd was amazing and when the ball goes through the net, you just hear them roaring and you’re like ‘okay.’”
On Senior Night, Cooper was spectacular. She was perfect on three shots from 3-point range, 6 of 10 from the field and led the team with nine rebounds. Cooper was on fire in the first quarter, putting up ten points to help OSU get an early 35-22 lead.
“It means a lot to be able to provide that for my team to secure the win, for one,” Cooper said. “I just felt good throughout the game. They kept passing me the ball and hand down, man down — that’s what I’ve heard in the past, so I just let it rip.”
After shooting 78 percent from the field and 88 percent from the three-point line in the first quarter, the Buckeyes fell into an offensive slump and let the Terrapins catch back up in the second and third.
In the third quarter, Maryland went on a 13-point run which brought the Terps within two points of tying the game, but the Buckeyes held their ground, starting with making their first four shots of the fourth quarter.
“They’ve got a great team,” said OSU coach Kevin McGuff. “I knew it would be a game of runs. That’s the part I’m most proud about because we had plenty of opportunity to go away when they made that impressive run, but our kids kind of stuck together.”
In addition to Mitchell’s 31 and Cooper’s 19, three other Buckeyes ended the game in double figures. OSU shot 63 percent overall and 56 from the 3-point line.
“Well when (OSU) shoots like that, they can go all the way,” said Maryland coach Brenda Frese. “They were sensational.”
Now, OSU will travel to Rutgers for its final regular-season game where they could come home with two wins: one over the Scarlet Knights and the second being the Big Ten title.
“It shows that we can certainly play with anyone in the country and that we’re one of the best teams in the country,” McGuff said. “We’re playing our best basketball at the right time.”