Ohio State and Northwestern opened up the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament this afternoon. The Buckeyes finally prevailed in a tough contest, pulling away in the last two minutes for the final margin, 86-77. Before I get into the particulars, I want to congratulate both teams on a hard fought contest. The 2nd half, especially, was an exciting contest, which really went down to the final few minutes.. Although OSU trailed by 4 at the half (39-35), a 51 point second half blitz proved to be too much for the Wildcats.
Ohio State was led by Ameryst Alston’s 30 points (20 in the 2nd half), and double ‘double-doubles’ by Darryce Moore (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Martina Ellerbe (16 points, 13 rebounds). Truly outstanding performances. Ohio State shot 41% from the field, grabbed 45 rebounds and only turned the ball over 8 times.
Northwestern was led by Maggie Lyon’s 23 points, Lauren Douglas’ 15 points, Karly Roser’s 11 points and Nia Coffey’s 17 points and 11 rebounds. Northwestern shot 40% from the field, had 41 rebounds and turned the ball over 10 times.
By the first time out at 16:29, Ohio State held a 9-2 lead, thanks to tBBC’s ‘Most Surprising (in a good way) Player’ Martina Ellerbe’s 5 points and 2 rebounds. At the 14:37 mark, OSU held a 12-4 lead and seemed to be in control . However, by the under-11 timeout, Northwestern had pulled to within 1 point, 12-11. At this point OSU was in a nearly four minute scoring drought, going 0-4 in that stretch. In an 8-second stretch, Raven Ferguson picked up 2 fouls and Darryce 1 foul. This gave Ferguson 3 fouls, along with Alston’s 2 fouls, with barely 9 minutes to play in the half. Getting to the under-8 timeout still showed OSU holding a narrow 22-19 lead. At the 6:15 mark, OSU had pulled to a 30-21 lead, thanks to two 3-pointers by Ameryst Alston. At the under 4 mark, OSU still led 35-30. The Buckeyes couldn’t quite pull away and the Wildcats continued to attack Ohio State. However, Ohio State went inert, as Northwestern outscored them 13-0 over the last 5 minutes of the half, punctuated by a Nia Coffey 3-pointer at the buzzer to go into halftime leading 39-35. At this point, the prediction by Charles and myself that Ohio State would win this game was in doubt, and WVa’s prediction that the Buckeyes take it all was in the same boat.
In 2nd half action, Ohio State tied the game at the under-16 mark, helped by 5 quick points by Ameryst Alston. At the under-12 mark, OSU held a 54-51 lead, thanks to a 2nd half blitz by Alston’s 11 points. At the under-8 mark, OSU was still leading, 57-56. At the under-6 time-out, Northwestern had edged into a tie, 61 all. Bracketing the 4:30 mark, Northwestern’s Maggie Lyon and Ohio State’s Martina Ellerbe exchanged 3′s, and a following Darryce Moore’s layup ended a burst that had Ohio State leading 68-67 with 3:40 left in the game. This is good punch-counterpunch play by both teams. At the 2:36 timeout, a Darryce Moore offensive rebound and put-back gave Ohio State a 73-71 lead. Which, Maggie Lyon evened things up with a jump shot 15 seconds later. Down to the :38 mark, and OSU held an 82-77 lead, thanks to a 30 second span with just over a minute to play where Alyston and Ellerbe combined for 5 quick points to enable the Buckeyes to pull away.
In the first half, the Buckeyes shot 33% from the filed (12-36), 41% 7-17 from 3-pt and 4-4 from the foul line. The Wildcats shot 40% from the field (12-30), a poor 14% (1-7) from 3-pt range, but 92% (11-12) from the foul line.
Ohio State continues its season tomorrow at noon against #1 seed Penn State. Tip-off is at noon EST and will be televised on BTN.