MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Ohio State held one of the Big Ten’s highest scoring teams scoreless over the final three minutes of the game and made a number of clutch plays down the stretch to secure a 66-63 victory over No. 24 Minnesota on Tuesday evening.
Destiny Pitts banked in a three-pointer to give the Golden Gophers a 63-59 lead with 2:55 to play. Buckeye freshman Jacy Sheldon answered with a huge three of her own on the next possession and the OSU defense came through when it matter for a second win over a ranked opponent this season.
“We stuck together and made plays down the stretch which was really nice to see,” said head coach Kevin McGuff. “This is a really tough place to play and it’s always tough to win on the road in the Big Ten. I’m proud of how we played tonight and I hope this can help us take a step forward and we continue to get better.”
Freshman Kierstan Bell scored all of her team-high 13 points in the second half. She made three three-pointers and was big for the Buckeyes in the third quarter as she scored eight of the team’s 10 points.
Sophomore Aaliyah Patty was 6-of-6 from the floor and notched the second double-double of her career. The Lombard, Ill., native finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Sheldon also finished in double figures with 10 points including that clutch three late in the fourth quarter.
Junior Braxtin Miller played 38 minutes and was the veteran presence the Buckeyes needed. She finished with five points, four rebounds, four assists and a pair of blocks. Sophomore Janai Crooms gave the Buckeyes a spark in the first half as she finished with eight points and a game-high six assists.
The Buckeyes shot 41.9 percent for the game and limited Minnesota to its worst shooting game of the season at just 33.9 percent. The 63 points were also the fewest the Gophers have scored in a game this season.
Ohio State led by four points after the first quarter and the Gophers scored the first three points of the second to cut the lead to one. OSU then went on a 14-2 run to take a 30-17 lead with 2:24 to play in the half. Minnesota took back some of the momentum before the break as the Gophers scored 11 of the final 15 points to cut the Buckeye lead to 34-28.
The Gophers held that edge at the start of the second half as they scored the first eight points to retake a 38-34 lead. OSU answered with a 10-2 run later in the quarter, keyed by eight from Bell and the Buckeyes trailed by just two headed to the final quarter.
Minnesota led by as much as seven with six minutes to play before the Buckeye defense stepped up got key stops down the stretch.
Ohio State will have six days off before headed to College Park, Md., on Monday, Jan. 6, to take on defending conference champion Maryland. Tip is set for 7 p.m. on ESPN 2.