The No. 8 Ohio State women’s basketball team (15-3, 5-1 Big Ten) led by five points at halftime, but failed to finish off No. 19 Michigan (16-4, 5-2 Big Ten) in the second half, falling 84-75 to the Wolverines Tuesday at the Schottenstein Center.
The Wolverines clawed their way back into the game after trailing the majority of the game. Over the final 2:59 of the third quarter, they went on a 13-4 run to take a 62-58 lead. The visiting team extended its lead and closed the game with a 22-17 fourth-quarter run.
Ohio State struggled in the second half, shooting just 25.6 percent from the field. The Buckeyes also finished 6-for-30 from 3-point range. Their shooting woes were not the only problem. Ohio State was out-rebounded 44-31 in the game.
“I don’t think we had the focus that we needed tonight to win, way too many mental errors against a good Michigan team,” Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff said. “I thought they played well, and when we made mistakes they made us pay. They shot 53 percent and outrebounded us by 13, we shot 36 percent, you’re not going to win a game.”
A 15-point first half from senior forward Stephanie Mavunga boosted the Buckeyes to a 41-36 lead, but she was held to just six second-half points before fouling out with 1:52 remaining in the game.
Senior guard Kelsey Mitchell added 20 points, shooting 5-for-14 from the field. Mitchell tied the all-time made 3-point record in all divisions with 58.3 seconds remaining in the game. She has made 441 career triples.
The Buckeyes forced 21 turnovers to their eight, but Michigan executed its offense well when it maintained possession, shooting 53.7 percent from the field.
The Buckeyes’ pesky defense and solid ball movement was effective in the first half. That changed in the second half behind Michigan center Hallie Thome’s domination in the paint. The 6-foot-5 junior finished with 27 points, despite facing early foul trouble.
“[Thome] was incredible the first go around so we really wanted to make sure we found her early and got her touches early and last game it was the opposite. Last game Mavunga got those two fouls early and she was out,” Michigan head coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “For our team to stay as close as we did at half without [Thome] being in the game, I felt pretty good at half going in.”
Michigan senior guard Katelynn Flaherty, who averaged 23.1 points per game entering the game, was held to just three points on 1-for-9 shooting in the first half. But she finished with 21 points, four rebounds and three assists, with most of her scoring coming during the Wolverines’ second-half charge.