The No. 3 Ohio State women’s basketball team continues to find different ways to win, outlasting a late surge from Michigan State to win 74-68 Sunday at the Schottenstein Center. Sophomore guard Taylor Thierry led the team with a career-high 21 points.
In their Big Ten home opener, the Buckeyes (10-0, 2-0 Big Ten) played their closest game yet. Michigan State (6-5, 0-2 Big Ten) outscored the Buckeyes 36-32 in the second half, but a strong start and clutch free throw shooting propelled Ohio State to hand the Spartans their fifth-consecutive loss.
The game got off to a fast-paced start. The Buckeyes took an early 11-10 lead before the Spartans went on a 6-0 run. Ohio State responded with a 6-0 run of its own after a pair of 3s from guards redshirt junior Rikki Harris and senior Taylor Mikesell to put pressure on the Spartans early.
To end the first quarter, the Buckeyes forced three Michigan State traveling violations, forcing 11 in the entirety of the opening period. A 10-0 run by redshirt junior guard Madison Greene and Thierry gave Ohio State a 29-17 advantage.
Ohio State cooled off in the second quarter, missing its first eight field goal attempts. Michigan State closed the gap after an 8-1 run cut the lead to five points, which prompted the Buckeyes to respond with a 6-0 run of their own.
Neither team got much going asboth shot less than 36 percent from the field for the period. Ohio State was able to maintain the upper hand leading 42-32 at the half, led by Thierry who had a game-high 15 points.
Thierry continues to improve each game as the season goes on. Mikesell said the Cleveland native’s growth comes as no surprise, largely because of the work she put in this offseason.
“She does all the little things and then she makes big plays with just how athletic she is and just how well she reads the court,” Mikesell said. “I think that it’s really honestly just the beginning for her. She’s really just coming out of her shell.”
The second half opened in the same way the game began: with both teams trading runs. Ohio State scored the first eight points of the quarter before the Spartans countered with a 15-2 run, once again cutting the deficit to five points.
Michigan State made six of its last seven shots to trail 59-54 entering the final period. However, Spartans junior guard Gabby Elliott was forced to leave the game with a leg injury in the closing seconds of the third quarter. The former Clemson Tiger had a team-high 11 points before exiting the game.
The final period was defensive, with the Spartans grinding to outscore the Buckeyes 12-8 in the quarter, finding themselves down 68-66 with 32 seconds remaining.
Michigan State had an opportunity to tie the game, but a few strong defensive possessions and four Mikesell free throws sealed the deal for Ohio State.
At 10-0, the Buckeyes have their best opening record since the 2011-12 season, when they won their first 15 games.
Michigan State entered the game as the third-best defense in the Big Ten, allowing only 58.4 points per game. The Buckeyes were held to a season-low 74 points, but head coach Kevin McGuff said he was proud of his team nonetheless.
“I thought we showed really good competitive character,” McGuff said. “We kept fighting and scratching and clawing and just doing whatever we had to try to find a way to win.”
Thierry said she is getting more comfortable with being out of her comfort zone, which has helped her consistency and confidence.
“It’s starting to work out, and it showed a little bit today,” Thierry said. “Hopefully I can keep doing that moving forward.”
Ohio State wraps up a three-game homestand against Albany Friday before heading to California for the San Diego Invitational. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will be available on BTN+.
John Gasaway, ESPN InsiderJun 2, 2023, 09:30 AM ETCloseESPN Insider college basketball contributor First began covering college hoops in 2004 Has written for Ba
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