Women’s Basketball: Ohio State wears down Northwestern, 94-87

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Women’s Basketball: Ohio State wears down Northwestern, 94-87

Ashley Deary guards a ball-handler. The senior guard became the Big Ten's all-time leader in steals but could not lift NU to a win Tuesday.

Ashley Deary guards a ball-handler. The senior guard became the Big Ten's all-time leader in steals but could not lift NU to a win Tuesday.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Ashley Deary guards a ball-handler. The senior guard became the Big Ten's all-time leader in steals but could not lift NU to a win Tuesday.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Ashley Deary guards a ball-handler. The senior guard became the Big Ten's all-time leader in steals but could not lift NU to a win Tuesday.

Cole Paxton, Assistant Sports Editor

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Women’s Basketball


Northwestern got tantalizingly close. But it never got over the hump.

The Wildcats closed a 12-point halftime deficit to 2 midway through the third quarter, but No. 11 Ohio State (13-4, 3-0 Big Ten) did just enough to hold off NU (13-3, 2-1) in the final minutes to escape Welsh-Ryan Arena with a 94-87 win over the Cats on Tuesday night.

Guard Kelsey Mitchell led all scorers with 33 points despite leaving briefly in the second half after taking an elbow to the face. The Big Ten’s leading scorer joined four teammates in double figures. Senior forward Nia Coffey scored 22 points, while freshman forward Abi Scheid and senior guard Christen Inman each added 20. Senior guard Ashley Deary dished out 14 assists and became the Big Ten’s all-time steals leader, but NU could not keep pace with Ohio State’s high-powered attack.

“Ohio State is relentless in the way they come at you, offensively and defensively,” coach Joe McKeown said. “In the third quarter, they just kept making runs. … We fought really hard coming back.”

The offensive explosion was not surprising. The Buckeyes entered Tuesday ranked fifth in the country in scoring average at 88.5 points per game.

The shootout broke out early, as Ohio State went 10-of-18 on 3-pointers in the first half and the two teams combined to make 16 shots from beyond the arc in the opening 20 minutes. Mitchell alone scored 15 points before the break.

“I knew we’d have to make some shots from the perimeter, because … they do such a great job with their zone,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “They don’t make it easy to score around the basket.”

The Buckeyes built a seemingly comfortable 12-point advantage thanks to a 10-0 run in the final minute-plus of the first half. The Cats responded after the break, using a 14-4 run to bring the score to 58-56.

But Ohio State countered every NU run, including a final one that brought the Cats within 3 with under a minute remaining. Despite numerous pushes from NU, the Buckeyes maintained control until the final buzzer.

“They’re definitely an up-and-down team. That’s kind of their bread and butter,” Deary said. “But that’s what we like to do too.”

The game was just the latest in a series of offense-driven classics between the two teams. Even last season, when the Cats limped to an eventual 4-14 Big Ten record, NU was a thorn in Ohio State’s side, upsetting the No. 5 Buckeyes 86-82 in the teams’ first meeting and losing by three in the rematch.

Tuesday’s loss commenced a grueling five-day stretch in which the Cats play their only two ranked Big Ten opponents — the Buckeyes and No. 3 Maryland. With a loss in College Park on Saturday, NU would see its fast 2-0 Big Ten start become a middling 2-2 mark, and the Cats will have lost their chances to earn a standout win that would aid their NCAA Tournament resume.

Nonetheless, McKeown believed this game could be a springboard for future success.

“If we use it correctly as a team, we’ll learn something from tonight, try to clean some things up and understand that the top of this league is where we aspire to (be),” he said. “From a confidence standpoint, our players should come out of this feeling pretty good about themselves.”

This story was updated at 11:32 p.m. with quotes.

Email: colepaxton2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @ckpaxton

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