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Women’s Basketball: No. 3 seed Buckeyes fall to No. 2 seed Iowa in Big Ten championship

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The No. 3 seed Ohio State women’s basketball team fell to No. 2 seed Iowa in the Ben Ten Tournament final Sunday. Credit: Christian Harsa | Managing Editor for Digital Content

Less than 24 hours ago, the Buckeyes pulled off the largest comeback in Big Ten Semifinals History.

But Sunday night, Ohio State was on the other side of history.

No. 4 seed Ohio State (25-6, 13-6 Big Ten) suffered a dominating 105-72 loss against No. 2 seed Iowa (25-6,15-3 Big Ten) on Sunday night as the Buckeyes got outscored 61-24 at the half, making it the most points scored in a Big Ten Tournament for Iowa in program history.

“I give them a lot of credit,” head coach Kevin McGuff said. “We just had a disastrous first half, and they made us pay. I mean they were so efficient on offense, and so once again they played great and deserved to win.”

Senior guard Taylor Mikesell finished with 24 points on 6-of-10 from 3-point range. After a slow offensive start, freshman forward Cotie McMahon scored 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

Hawkeyes junior guard Caitlin Clark erupted as she finished with a triple-double, notching 30 points, 10 rebounds and 17 assists. This was Clark’s second triple-double against Ohio State, dating back to their earlier matchup on Jan. 23 in which the Hawkeyes handed the Buckeyes their first loss of the season after starting 19-0.

Fifth-year forward Monika Czinano contributed with 26 points on 11-of-12 shooting from the field as nine different Hawkeyes put points on the board.

Unfortunately, this game for the Buckeyes replicated the January matchup versus Iowa from a statistical standpoint. The Buckeye once again got outrebounded 45-29, as the Hawkeyes pounded the glass, grabbing 36 defensive rebounds compared to Ohio State’s 17.

This time, points in the paint added to Buckeyes’ demise. Iowa scored 52 points in the paint with most coming in the early frame from Czinano. McGuff said Czinano’s efficient scoring ability around the basket made it difficult for the Buckeyes to get into defensive positioning.

“One of the stories of this tournament were as good as Clark and Czinano were, the other people who made shots [were too],” McGuff said. “We were trying to front [Czinano] so she couldn’t get the ball, but we were also trying to be close enough to get to their other shooters who shot the ball so well.”

A defensive ballgame from the Buckeyes in the first quarter seemed to be the scheme they ran throughout the game. Ohio State forced three-consecutive Iowa turnovers but could not turn them into points scored on the other end.

Mikesell scored the first four points for the Buckeyes. Clark’s first 3 of the night came at 6:03, but Thierry came back with a 3-pointer of her own.

Thierry’s 3-pointer was the Buckeyes last field goal for the next 4 1/2 minutes.

During this time, the Hawkeyes went on a 17-3 run over the next 3:28 minutes, hitting their next seven shots.

Clark, who was named the Big Ten Player of the Year for the second-consecutive season, led the Hawkeyes’ scoring run. The dynamic guard showed off her shooting range from deep and the ability to find her teammates for open shots in the lane.

Clark had three of her nine assists in the first frame, as she finished the half above her season average of 8.1. Iowa’s 20-7 run after another 3 from Clark, led McGuff to call his second timeout.

Thierry stopped Iowa’s 16-0 run at 1:26 with a layup, putting the score at 22-9. The Buckeyes shot 22 percent from the field and went 1-of-7 from 3.

Ohio State couldn’t find answers inside for the Hawkeyes, who scored 14 points in the paint compared to the Buckeyes’ two.

Czinano was the recipient of most of these points as Clark lobbed passes inside for the big. Throughout the game the Buckeyes switched senior forward Rebeka Mikulasikova, McMahon and senior forward Eboni Walker onto Czinano, but her offensive positioning overwhelmed Ohio State.

Iowa ended the quarter shooting 83 percent, as they shot 10-of-12 from the field and 75 percent from 3. The Hawkeyes had five players put points on the board to end the quarter.

Mikesell and Thierry were the only Buckeyes to score in the first outing.

Entering the second frame, the Buckeyes looked to make their own run. Thierry would score seven of Ohio State then-11 points after a driving layup.

With 8:38 left, Clark hit another three putting her up to 17 points.

Thierry and Mikesell, were the only Buckeyes to score up until a McMahon bucket at the 7:41 mark of the second. McMahon, who’s coming off a double-double in the semifinals against Indiana, was held to seven points on 3-of-7 shooting from the floor in the half.

“I wasn’t getting the calls that I wanted,” McMahon said. “And I feel like I got to a point where I was extremely frustrated, and I kind of just let myself go. You know it happens to the best of us, but it kind of motivated us a little bit to finish the game and kind of play hard.”

Ohio State went back to its full court press, which caused Iowa a few problems to start the game.

The Buckeyes forced an Iowa turnover at 5:38 but handed the ball right back as senior guard Hevynne Bristow was called for an offensive foul.

Clark continued her shooting barrage as she nearly led the entire half with more points scored than Ohio State until the 3:35 mark when Mikesell launched a catch-and-shoot 3.

Mikesell, the Buckeyes leading scorer this season, had seven points to end the half.

A layup by redshirt senior guard Kate Martin gave the Hawkeyes a 35-point lead, their largest of the half. The Buckeyes ended the half shooting 9-of-36 from the field, while Iowa shot 72 percent from the field.

Clark scored 23 points to end the half, which was one point shy of Ohio State’s total points. The Buckeyes entered the locker-room down 61-24.

“I think that [Clark] really has grown,” McGuff said. “I think early on it was about scoring. But she receives the floor and makes the right decisions as well as anybody I’ve seen, maybe ever, in college basketball.”

The second half proved to be no different for the Hawkeyes as they continued their shooting performance. McMahon scored 17 points while Mikesell followed with 16 shooting 6-of-8 from the free throw line.

“[Mikesell’s] a competitor and really that’s mostly what I talked about at halftime,” McGuff said. “I’m not putting anyone out there in the second half unless you’re competing at a high level, whether you’re making shots, missing shots, whether you’re making mistakes, or whatever, but just competing at the highest level that’s all the second half was going to be about for me.”

For McGuff and the Buckeyes, competing at a high level is what the Buckeyes did for the rest of the game. Ohio State was engaged both offensively and defensively, as they shot 45 percent from the field and 8-of-17 from 3, grabbing eight steals.

However, the Buckeyes could not find consecutive defensive stops, which allowed the Hawkeyes to extend their lead to as much as 38 in the fourth, with eight players scoring in double figures.

Ohio State will look to regain momentum before entering the NCAA Tournament. Selection Sunday March 12 will determine where the Buckeyes land.

McGuff said the Buckeyes will watch film to improve and feels that despite the loss Ohio State has positioned themselves for a top seed in the tournament.

“When you start to look at seeding, I think this was a very productive tournament for us.” McGuff said. “We helped ourselves in that regard as we all know it’s so important to try to get a top-four seed and then we had stretches where we were outstanding.”

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