If Ohio State Coach Kevin McGuff were to go to Starbucks and order a drink, he wouldn’t order a tall or a venti. He would order a grande.
His point guard, graduate Carmen Grande, did everything in her power to disrupt IU’s offense and seal the game down the stretch in the Hoosiers’ 55-50 loss to the Buckeyes.
Grande finished with 19 points, five rebounds, three assists and five steals, including four clutch free throws with under 30 seconds left to secure the win. It was Ohio State’s first Big Ten win of the season and, in turn, IU’s first Big Ten loss.
Ohio State is used to being one of the better teams in the nation, but after losing key players to graduation, this year’s team is not the same powerhouse. This time, IU was the favorite to win the game, ranked at No. 25.
All statistics leading into this game favored IU, but the Hoosiers chose to play the Buckeyes’ game, and it cost them.
Early on things were ugly. The score was tied at two for the first five minutes of the game until IU managed to pull away at the end of the first quarter to take a 14-5 advantage into the second.
Yet sloppy turnovers and lazy transition defense allowed Ohio State to stay in the game. IU led 24-20 at the half.
The third quarter saw a bit more scoring than the first two, but still both teams struggled to find any offensive rhythm.
“I feel like we got some good shots,” IU Coach Teri Moren said. “There were moments where I thought we were a little bit rushed, out of sync. I didn’t think we ever found our rhythm.”
The Hoosiers entered the fourth quarter with a six-point lead, and that’s when things got ugly.
Led by the tenacious defense of Grande, Ohio State opened the fourth quarter by creating three straight IU turnovers and going on an 8-0 run to take its first lead of the game. From there, the two teams exchanged baskets until the Buckeyes went on another scoring spurt, this time a 7-0 run to take a six-point lead with 1:20 remaining.
IU wasn’t done, though. Freshman forward Aleksa Gulbe split a pair of free throws and then junior forward Brenna Wise converted an and-one to cut the Buckeye lead to just one with 33 seconds left.
The Hoosiers then forced a Buckeye turnover but couldn’t capitalize on it. Grande hit her first pair of big free throws, sophomore guard Jaelynn Penn couldn’t hit the three to tie and Grande hit her next pair to end the game.
This was IU's lowest-scoring game of the season and it marked its 13th-straight loss to Ohio State. Ever since McGuff was named Ohio State head coach in 2013, he has gone 9-0 against IU.
This was the Hoosiers’ first game since being ranked in the top-25 Monday. IU will have one more game to convince the Associated Press poll why it should remain in the top-25 when it plays the 10-6 Wisconsin Badgers on Sunday in Madison, Wisconsin.
“Hopefully, as I say, you always have some bounce back ability when we go to Wisconsin,” Moren said.
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