MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Rikki Harris made a go-ahead layup with 38 seconds left for 14th-ranked Ohio State in a 79-75 victory over second-ranked Indiana after rallying from a 24-point deficit in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Saturday.
Taylor Thierry had 19 points, 12 rebounds and three steals for the Buckeyes (25-6), who turned up their full-court press in the second half to take down the regular-season conference champion Hoosiers (27-3) and damage their bid for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Cotie McMahon added 12 points, 14 rebounds and three steals. She also played a major role in limiting Indiana star Mackenzie Holmes, who had 12 points — nearly 13 below her average — on 3-for-7 shooting.
Holmes got a hook shot to fall with 45 seconds to go for a 75-74 lead. With the Hoosiers trailing 77-75, Holmes grabbed the rebound of teammate Sydney Parrish’s jumper but was tied up by Jacy Sheldon — who had four of Ohio State’s 14 steals — for a held ball call that went to the Buckeyes for the alternating possession.
Taylor Mikesell scored 13 points and Sheldon had 12 for Ohio State, which finished fourth in the Big Ten standings after ranking as high as second in The Associated Press poll. This performance ought to have solidified at least a No. 3 seed for the Buckeyes, who also beat rival and 17th-ranked Michigan twice in the last three weeks.
Grace Berger led the Hoosiers with 20 points and six assists. Reserve Sara Scalia scored 15 points and Parrish added 10 points. Parrish and Chloe Moore-McNeil each had four of Indiana’s 18 turnovers. Fourteen of them came after halftime once the Buckeyes dialed up their pressure.
Holmes picked up her fourth foul with 8:43 left on McMahon’s and-one underneath that cut the Indiana lead to 63-58.
Ohio State trailed by 10 points with 6 1/2 minutes to go, but that defensive relentlessness in the backcourt rarely subsided. After a five-second violation on the Hoosiers for failing to inbound the ball with 5:22 left, Sheldon converted a layup to bring the Buckeyes within 70-67.
The fact that they were even in it at all in the second half was quite the testament to their fortitude, after a scoreless streak of 9:40 that bridged the first and second quarters. Scalia, a Stillwater, Minnesota, native who transferred from the Gophers to the Hoosiers for this season, was feeling it from behind the arc late in the first half. She swished a 3-pointer with 1:12 remaining for a 46-22 lead, the largest of the game for Indiana.
With the freshman McMahon aggressively fronting McKenzie and the 6-foot-4 senior Rebeka Mikulasikova making her presence felt in the paint, the Buckeyes made it hard on the Big Ten’s second-leading scorer. Holmes didn’t back down from the contact, delivering some hard screens herself, but she was never able to find a rhythm.
The Hoosiers shot 8 for 29 in the second half.