Chants of “100” rained down on the court as eager fans wished for another basket while the Buckeyes dribbled out the clock for their fourth straight win.
Ohio State women’s basketball (15-9, 8-5 Big Ten) continued its best stretch of the season Thursday night, beating Minnesota (15-10, 5-9) 99-76. The Buckeyes outscored the Golden Gophers 75-52 during the final three quarters to pull away with the win.
“We’ve been practicing really hard and preparing really well for these teams,” freshman guard Madison Greene said. “That’s really contributed to [the winning streak].”
The Buckeye freshmen were firing on all cylinders as they combined for 65 points while shooting a scorching 67 percent from the field.
Greene facilitated the offense, finishing with career highs in points and assists with 25 and seven, respectively. She didn’t register a single turnover.
“My teammates were just getting open,” Greene said. “They were setting good screens, the driving lanes were open so I would drive it and find them.”
Greene’s ability to get to the foul line was key in her scoring success, as she shot 11 free throws with five and-one layups.
Freshman guard Kierstan Bell has shined during the winning streak, as well, turning in some career performances with 44 points throughout the past three games. Thursday was no exception.
Bell finished the game with 15 points on an efficient 6-for-9 from the field, despite playing only 14 minutes due to an early exit following a technical foul late in the third.
“She’s young, passionate and wants to do well,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “It was a great opportunity for her to learn.”
Freshman guard Jacy Sheldon turned in 19 points alongside seven rebounds in a strong performance.
A dominant second quarter by Ohio State separated the Buckeyes and the Gophers after a tied first. The Buckeyes closed the quarter on a 22-9 run, giving them a 12-point advantage heading into the break. They held onto the lead for the rest of the night.
Despite the strong offensive production, McGuff said he was displeased with the way the Buckeyes played on the defensive end.
“If we had played stronger defense, we could have scored even more,” McGuff said.
Ohio State’s depth was once again a factor as the Buckeye bench outscored Minnesota’s reserves 31-17.
The Ohio State bench has outscored its opponents every game during the four-game tear.
The Gophers brought the Ohio State lead down to six early in the third quarter, but failed to get any closer as they only shot 1-for-13 from the field in the final 7:30 of the frame.
Minnesota’s offense struggled all night as it shot just 31 percent from the field and went 7-for-25 from beyond the arc. The Gophers found their offense from the foul line, where they shot 31-for-35.
“We put them at the line 35 times,” McGuff said. “I thought we just did not guard the ball well enough.”
Minnesota freshman guard Jasmine Powell found the most success from the charity stripe, finishing 14-for-15 from the line. She finished the game with a team-high 21 points.
Minnesota senior forward Taiye Bello turned in a strong performance for the Gophers, recording 14 points with seven rebounds.
Thursday was the first time the Ohio State offense scored more than 90 points since Dec. 17. Ohio State had not scored 90 or more points in a conference game since Feb. 18, 2018, against Rutgers.
Sheldon said the Buckeyes feel the momentum rolling as the team continues to push toward the NCAA Tournament.
“We’re starting to play really well together,” Sheldon said. “We want to keep that going and keep playing hard as it carries over into the next games.”
Ohio State looks to make it five straight when it takes on Indiana at 2 p.m. Sunday in Bloomington.