Women's basketball advances to first Sweet 16 ever with dominant OSU win
A 25-point second quarter silenced more than 3,000 Ohio State fans and lifted Central Michigan women's basketball over No. 3 Ohio State in St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio on March 19.
Central Michigan (30-4) downed Ohio State (28-7) in dominant fashion, 95-78. The Chippewas advance in the NCAA Tournament, where they will face No. 2 Oregon on March 24 in Spokane, Washington in the Sweet 16 round.
Junior guard Presley Hudson led the Chippewas with 26 points. CMU outscored Ohio State 25-6 in the second quarter to build a lead and momentum at halftime, and the Buckeyes couldn't come back from the 13-point half deficit.
The two-and-a-half-section-strong Chippewa fans let the hometown Ohio State fans hear it during Central Michigan women's basketball's 17-point victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"The fans always keep the faith," said head coach Sue Guevara, who's team is now heading to their first Sweet 16 in program history. "We withstood the punch in the first quarter. This team will not fold. We knew what we had to do, and we went out and did it."
Mid-American Conference Player of the Tournament Reyna Frost set the tone on the first defensive possession for the Chippewas, blocking OSU forward Stephanie Mavunga on the first shot attempt.
Hudson earned CMU its first lead of the game, 5-4, with a 3-pointer from the corner.
The Buckeyes' home crowd helped force a shot-clock violation on Hudson with under five minutes in the first quarter. Guevara used her first timeout of the game to regroup.
From that point on, the Chippewas struggled to get into their offense. Ohio State built a 15-5 lead with 1:30 left in the first quarter.
Senior guard Cassie Breen stripped OSU forward Alexa Hart and hit two free throws for the final points of the first quarter. Ohio State led 15-9.
"We knew we had each others back," redshirt freshman guard Micaela Kelly said. "It helped with confidence knowing that your teammates are right beside you fighting this battle."
The Chippewas hit two 3-pointers to close the Ohio State lead to only two points with eight minutes remaining in the first quarter. Frost went to the line to tie the game at 16 after grabbing two offensive rebounds on back-to-back possessions.
Hudson faked a pass to Frost then euro-stepped to the basket for a layup to take a two-point lead. Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff attempted to halt the Chippewas' momentum by calling an immediate timeout.
Breen later hit a jump shot from the elbow — extending CMU's lead to four points with four minutes left in the half. The following possession, Breen was fouled on a missed 3-point attempt and hit each foul shot.
The Buckeyes got their offense going again after hitting a couple free throws. But, Breen didn't stop scoring. She hit two back-to-back 3-pointers to lift CMU to a 10-point lead with 1:20 left in the half. Breen kept on making plays, too.
"We are living the life right now," Breen said, after putting up 22 total points and plotting a plan to douse Guevara with water after the game.
She earned an extra offensive possession after falling when she was cut off by a screen. Hudson hit a 3-pointer and extended the Chippewa lead to 13. Then, OSU turned the ball over again.
Buckeye fans let the referees have it, too. In the ensuing timeout, Chippewa and Buckeye fans screamed back-and-forth, rooting for their teams. Even though the Buckeye fans were louder, CMU had the momentum on the court.
"The first time (the Buckeye fans) were cheering I was like, 'dang,'" Moore said. "That is a moment I will never forget in my entire life."
CMU went on a 20-1 run in the second quarter to earn a 13-point lead at halftime. The Chippewas brought in 11 offensive rebounds in the first half, compared to OSU's six.
The Chippewas kept momentum out of the second half. Moore hit two straight 3-pointers to extend CMU's lead to 22 points. This time, the CMU fans let the Buckeye fans hear it during the ensuing timeout.
It seemed as if CMU couldn't stop scoring in the third quarter, which was similar to the second quarter. CMU led 64-41 with a minute and 30 seconds left in the third. CMU went 7-of-8 from 3-point range in the third quarter.
"We did our best to contest as many shots as we could, but after a while, they couldn't miss," Mitchell said.
The Chippewas' lead stood at 22 heading into the fourth quarter.
Frost hit a wide open layup on the fast break to extend CMU's lead to 72-51. Moore bullied her way to the free throw line on back-to-back Chippewa possessions and helped secure the lead after OSU received some momentum.
With 5:54 left in the fourth quarter, Kelsey Mitchell hit a 3-pointer and Linnae Harper stripped and scored a layup to gain momentum. However, on the following CMU possession, the Buckeyes committed three fouls — resulting in two made free throws for Moore.
Ohio State fans started filing out of St. John Arena with about two minutes left in the fourth quarter after an airball from high-scoring guard Mitchell. At this point, the Chippewas started to waste time and the win was sealed.
"What's the difference between a good player and a great player? Great players don't get tired," Guevara said, after being asked about how only two bench players touched the floor for the Chippewas.
Maddy Watters and Kyra Bussell were the only two Chippewas to come off the bench, combining for 10 minutes of production.