Ohio State’s then-junior guard Jensen Caretti (33) goes up for the shot in the game against Penn State on Feb 6. Ohio State won 78-73. Credit: Cori Wade | Assistant Photo Editor

It was a close game all the way until the end, but Ohio State women’s basketball came up short against UConn. 

The Buckeyes (3-2) dropped 73-62 to No. 4 UConn (5-0) in a contest far more competitive than this past season’s 32-point UConn blowout.

“We’re really proud of how hard we played,” junior guard Braxtin Miller said. “We just left everything on the floor. Even when shots weren’t falling or things weren’t going our way, we never hung our heads.”

The game was close all four quarters, with the Buckeyes trailing by just six points heading into the last period. The difference came in the fourth, where the Buckeyes shot just 27.8 percent from the field, while the Huskies hit 70 percent of their attempts.

Still, Miller said the hard-fought contest proved Ohio State’s mettle.

“I know there has been a lot of controversy over how young we are and this and that,” Miller said. “You can’t fight us on that we’re tough and that’s a huge take away.” 

Down 11 with 2:36 left, Ohio State freshman guard Kierstan Bell hit a 3-pointer, then the Buckeye press forced a steal by Miller, who set up freshman guard Jacy Sheldon for a layup. The Buckeyes had cut it to a 6-point lead with 2:20 left.

However, UConn scored six of the game’s final seven points to come out on top.

Bell put up 16 points and two steals on the night, and said Ohio State had to work for open shots to avoid the shot-blocking prowess of UConn sophomore forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa, who entered with 17 through four games.

Nelson-Ododa didn’t disappoint, finishing with four blocks, 12 boards and two steals despite playing on a fractured toe.

“For her, it was pretty gutsy to play,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said. “Even up until game time we weren’t sure whether she was going to be able to go.”

For UConn, senior guard Crystal Dangerfield led the way with 23 points and played all 40 minutes. She added six assists and two steals. 

The two other Huskies that played the entire game, sophomore guard Christyn Williams and junior forward Megan Walker, added 20 and 19 points respectively.

The size of Ohio State was something Auriemma said his team struggled with. He said they relied on jump shots, and Ohio State’s defense prevented them from making plays.

“We’ve got some size and strength around the basket and I thought that was helpful for us and just bothering some shots,” McGuff said. 

The Buckeyes proved tough against UConn, and may have seen a more favorable result if not for a 35 percent shooting performance.

Ohio State travels to Las Vegas to compete against South Dakota and Northern Iowa for games Friday and Saturday in the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout.