The Ohio State women’s basketball team’s season came to a close after being out-shot by the No. 1 seed Notre Dame in the Sweet Sixteen, losing 99-76.
OSU failed to take advantage of the gap in the paint left with leading scorer and rebounder forward Brianna Turner out of Notre Dame’s lineup with an ACL injury. Even with the return of junior forward Stephanie Mavunga, the Buckeyes failed to out rebound the Irish.
The Buckeyes were led in scoring by junior guard Kelsey Mitchell, who scored 18 points with six assists. She was followed by senior forward Shayla Cooper who had nine points, 13 rebounds, four assists and a steal.
Although Notre Dame was without Turner, the team had the rest of their group pick up the slack, with six scoring double digits, four of which scored 14 or more points. The Irish were lead by Arike Ogunbowale with 32 points and nine rebounds. She was followed by the Atlantic Coastal Conference’s MVP Lindsay Allen, who had a double-double with 16 points and 10 assists.
The first quarter was a back and forth exchange between the Irish and the Buckeyes. While OSU was slow to start in the first, they heated up as the quarter dwindled down, hitting six of their last seven field goals. Both teams ended the quarter hitting over 50 percent from the field. Although Turner being out left a hole down in the post, the Buckeyes moved the ball primarily around the arc and hit 5-of-9 from three.
The second quarter was highlighted by Notre Dame’s shots from beyond the arc. The Irish hit five shots from deep in the second and ended the first half with a 57.1 three-point percentage. The ability of the Irish to get to the free throw line gave Notre Dame a clear advantage. The Buckeyes didn’t attempt any shots from the charity stripe, while Notre Dame went 6-for-7 from the line in the first half. The Buckeyes ended the first trailing by eight, 50-42.
Ohio State opened the third quarter switching up the starting lineup and going big. The Buckeyes came out with Cooper, freshman forward Tori McCoy, junior forward Alexa Hart, junior forward Sierra Calhoun, and Mitchell. The big lineup was enough to catch Notre Dame off-guard and hit back-to-back shots to open the quarter.
The Irish quickly called a timeout and from there the Buckeyes struggled to keep up. Mitchell went the whole quarter without putting any points on the board. On the other side of the ball, OSU continued to play with a defensive urgency and struggled to get stops in the quarter court. The Buckeyes allowed Notre Dame to drive and get to the line, hitting another nine free throws in the third quarter alone. OSU trailed Notre Dame by 15 leading into the final quarter of play, 65-80.
The Buckeyes opened the fourth in a full court press to try and disrupt Notre Dame’s rhythm. OSU continued to allow penetration and let Notre Dame get extra points from the charity stripe. On offense OSU shot well, but lacked productive from their best scorer in Mitchell throughout the second half, only scoring three points in both the third and fourth quarter.
The Buckeyes end a second consecutive season getting to the Sweet Sixteen only to be eliminated before advancing to the Elite Eight. OSU will return most of their talent next year, only losing one player from the lineup Shayla Cooper.