The No. 5 seed Ohio State women’s basketball team dominated the No. 4 seed Kentucky Wildcats 82-68 with sharp shooting and tough defense in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Lexington, Kentucky.
Freshman Tori McCoy and redshirt junior guard Linnae Harper dominated on the floor for the Buckeyes, each recording a double-double.
This was a battle between two of the most powerful guards in the country — Kentucky’s senior Makayla Epps and OSU’s junior Kelsey Mitchell, who each led their team in scoring with 21 points a piece.
The Buckeyes had five players scoring in double figures including Mitchell, senior forward Shayla Cooper (10), Harper (12), McCoy (14) and redshirt sophomore guard Sierra Calhoun (10).
Mitchell started things off right for the Scarlet and Gray, draining a 3 just five seconds into the game. OSU got an early 12-8 lead thanks to 10 points from Mitchell in the first five minutes of play.
Kentucky kept the OSU lead to just four-points at the end of the first quarter, with senior forward Evelyn Akhator leading the team in points and dominating rebounds on both sides of the floor. She finished with 14 points and 23 rebounds.
In the beginning of the second quarter, the Buckeyes took control of the game, going on a 15-2 run in the first five minutes. OSU led the fast-paced game 46-31 and sunk six from 3 compared to the Wildcats’ one.
Kentucky came out with more fire in the second half and out-scored the Buckeyes 22-15 in the third quarter. Epps and Akhator led the Wildcats in scoring as they decreased the deficit to just 8-points.
Sophomore Wildcat Maci Morris downed a 3-pointer with 8:55 left to play to bring her team within one possession of the Buckeyes, 61-58.
The Wildcats never obtained the lead, however, and OSU went on an 8-0 run which resulted in a 82-68 tournament victory.
Harper, who transferred to OSU from Kentucky halfway through the 2015-16 season, was essential in the victory over her former team. She nearly had a triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
OSU will move on to the regional semifinals in the Sweet 16 round on March 24 at Rupp Arena. The Buckeyes will take on the winner of No. 1 seed Notre Dame and No. 9 seed Purdue.