The No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes led by double digits for the final 6:55 as a 14-0 fourth-quarter run from 8:38 to 6:20 broke a 65-65 tie and guided them to a 96-77 quality road victory over the No. 18 Louisville Cardinals in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge Wednesday night at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
The loss snapped the Cards’ 48-game non-conference home winning streak.
The Buckeyes, who received a game-high 26 points from Taylor Mikesell to remain unbeaten at 7-0 (0-0 Big Ten), trailed by as much as 14 and by 13 with 9:01 to go in the third quarter. But they would win the third 28-18 and the fourth 31-14. The 14-0 run featured a 5-0 individual run by Jacy Sheldon (22 points) and though the Cards cut it back to 10, Ohio State used an 11-0 run from 3:21 remaining to 1:52 remaining to gain its largest lead of 21.
With 8:40 left in the contest, Ohio State’s Rikki Harris got right up in Mykasa Robinson’s face after Robinson had blocked and grabbed a Madison Greene layup attempt, and Harris took the ball away from Robinson right at the baseline underneath the basket. Then, as she was falling out of bounds, Harris dished it back to Greene, who finished with a layup to kick off the 14-0 run.
Greene finished with 14 points, six assists and four steals. Her layup was followed by a 3-point play from Rebeka Mikulášiková (21 points, five rebounds, four assists). Sheldon then scored on a fast break layup and a step-back three before Harris (five points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals) made two free throws. After she missed the third of three free throw attempts, Harris closed the run with another steal under the basket turned assist to Mikesell.
An 11-0 run in the third was also key as it cut the Buckeyes’ deficit to two with 6:25 remaining before the fourth. From that point on, Ohio State’s largest deficit was four.
Mikesell (4-of-8 from three and 10-of-16 from the field) added two helpers while Sheldon (2-of-3 from three and 9-of-14 from the field) notched three steals and two blocks. Sheldon, who returned from a lower leg injury, has had at least three steals in each of her five appearances this season and is averaging 6.8 on the season. The Buckeyes’ turnovers forced per game average fell to a still-incredible 29 with 24 miscues caused on Wednesday, including eight committed by Louisville star Hailey Van Lith. Van Lith led the Cardinals with 20 points and 10 boards, but the guard’s three assists did not outweigh her mistakes.
Greene, like Sheldon, was 2-of-3 from distance as the Buckeyes shot 8-of-15 (53.3 percent) as a team. They managed a red-hot 59.7 percent clip from the floor while Louisville shot 43.5 percent.
Ohio State won by 19 in spite of turning the ball over 20 times, missing eight of 22 free throws (63.6 percent), losing the rebounding battle 37-34 and losing second chance points 18-8.
Mikulášiková leads the Buckeyes with 18.1 points per game. Mikesell and Sheldon follow with 17.7 and 16, respectively. Last year Sheldon led with 19.7 and was followed by Mikesell (18.6).
Mikesell has 20 threes (2.9 per game) at a 38.5 percent clip while Greene (six assists per game) has 10 (62.5 percent) and Mikulášiková has nine (40.9 percent). Last year, Mikesell made 3.6 threes per contest (second in the nation) at a 47.5 percent clip (second in the nation).
Ohio State has won all its games by at least 12 points, with the closest margin coming against the then-No. 5 Tennessee Lady Volunteers in the team’s opener. Wednesday marked their second ranked win of the season and only win against a team that is currently ranked (Tennessee is now receiving votes).
Louisville fell from No. 10 to No. 18 on Monday after falling to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (receiving votes) the previous Monday. The 2022 Final Four participant hadn’t been outside the Top 10 in five years. Cards head coach Jeff Walz was not happy with the team’s rebounding and effort at the Battle 4 Atlantis, which featured the loss to the Jackrabbits and a loss to the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Entering Wednesday, Louisville was coming off a 100-37 win over the Longwood Lancers. The Cards started off with a 12-3 run against the Buckeyes; it featured seven points from Morgan Jones, who finished with 15 points, six rebounds and two steals. However, the team was not able to keep the positive energy from the crowd going for the entirety of the contest and dropped a big-time showdown at home.
Louisville entered the second quarter up seven and a 10-0 run from 8:27 in the frame to 6:39 would extend the lead to 14. The run was capped by a three from Van Lith, who had five points during the stretch. Chrislyn Carr (14 points) added a three as well.
Ohio State would use a 3-point play from Taylor Thierry and a three from Sheldon to cut it to eight, which was also its deficit at halftime.
The Cards opened the third with five-straight points from Carr, but the Buckeyes responded with their 11-0 run, which was capped by a Mikesell triple.