No. 2 Indiana women’s basketball had complete control over No. 14 Ohio State on Saturday. The teams were tied at 12 before the Hoosiers ran off a 16-0 run, dominating both sides of the floor to gain a lead as much as 24 points before entering halftime leading by 20. After that, disaster struck Indiana.
The Hoosiers suffered a collapse in the second half, fulfilling a complete role reversal of the first half, all the way to a 4-point loss. Indiana had several chances at the end to tie or take the lead, but as was a common theme in the second half, the opportunities slipped through the Hoosiers’ hands.
“We just didn’t handle ourselves the way we needed to,” head coach Teri Moren said after the game. “The bugaboo was their press today.”
Indiana’s first half success looked like it was carrying over, as junior guard Sydney Parrish hit a 3-pointer to start the third quarter scoring and extend the lead to 23. After that moment, it was all Buckeyes.
Ohio State responded to Parrish’s three with a 19-4 run, stifling Indiana defensively while finally connecting on shots after shooting 28.6% from the field and 1-of-13 from deep in the first half. However, it was the Buckeyes’ full-court press that was the primary disruptor.
As a team with four serviceable ball handlers, including a seasoned veteran in graduate guard Grace Berger, Indiana has hardly struggled with full-court pressure all season. In particular, the Hoosiers picked apart the Buckeyes’ press in their two regular season matchups. But on Saturday afternoon, Indiana lost its composure.
Ohio State forced five turnovers in the third quarter and scored 8 points off them, a highly efficient conversion rate. Before the Hoosiers could even worry about scoring baskets to weather the Buckeyes’ comeback push, they had to first get the ball across halfcourt, which they struggled with tremendously.
Ohio State outscored Indiana 27-17 in the third quarter, cutting the halftime deficit in half and applying immense pressure on the Hoosiers. If that third quarter was bad for Indiana, the fourth quarter turned into a full-blown disaster.
The two teams started the fourth period trading 5-0 runs before Ohio State’s press made its presence known. Parrish threw away a pass and then fouled Buckeye sophomore guard Taylor Thierry, who converted the basket for an and-1. Then, Indiana was forced into a timeout to prevent a five-second violation, only to commit the violation right after.
Ohio State senior guard Jacy Sheldon scored after the violation, then stole a pass and scored again to cut Indiana’s lead to 1 with 4:29 remaining. Sheldon, who had not played against Indiana in the regular season due to an injury, was a clear difference maker, especially in the press.
“I think they did a better job of denying the ball in, and then I think you have Jacy Sheldon back, and she makes a big difference,” Berger said. “She’s quick, she’s athletic, and she’s really good.”
Over a minute later, senior guard Taylor Miksell converted an and-1 to put the Buckeyes up 72-71 — their first lead since 2-0. The two teams traded baskets, but Indiana trailed by 1 with 38 seconds remaining. Berger drove and spun for a layup attempt, but all the ball hit was backboard.
Mikesell made one of two free throws to extend Ohio State’s lead to 2, and Indiana had one more chance to tie or take the lead. Parrish missed a jumper, and in fitting fashion, Sheldon fought for a jump ball to give the ball back to the Buckeyes.
Sheldon’s forced jump ball was one final turnover, and after she calmly made two free throws to clinch the win — Indiana had fallen. Sheldon finished with 12 points and a team-high four steals.
After shooting 53.3% from the field and committing just four turnovers in the first half, Indiana regressed to 27.6% and 14 turnovers in the second half. The Hoosiers had 12 points and nine turnovers in the fourth quarter
“Their press was different. They denied the ball inbounds and were denying the reversal pass,” Moren said. “Give them credit, they amped it up, and when you start turning it over, things change a little bit.”
Ohio State outscored Indiana 53-29 in the second half. Overall, Indiana finished with 18 turnovers — 14 of which were Ohio State steals — and allowed 21 points off those giveaways.
Ohio State’s success with its full-court press and its defensive tactics on Indiana senior forward Mackenzie Holmes — who was held 10 points below her season average — may provide a blueprint for NCAA Tournament teams to beat Indiana. However, the Hoosiers get a break to recollect.
“We’ll look back, and we always have to learn something from this happening, and we will,” Moren said. “It’s gonna sting for a couple days, but I think it’ll help us in the NCAA Tournament.”