CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The Ohio State road warriors got it done again as the Buckeyes pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 78-58 victory over Illinois Thursday night in the State Farm Center.
This was the sixth true road victory in ten tries this year for the Buckeyes who improve to 13-9 on the year and 6-5 Big Ten play.
Much like the first meeting between the two teams, the Buckeyes weren’t able to shake the pesky Illini until late. Illinois opened the fourth quarter on a 5-0 run to get within two at 52-50. Kierstan Bell then knocked down back-to-back three-pointers and Jacy Sheldon followed with a three of her own to give the Buckeyes the breathing room they fought all night to get.
Bell hit four of the Buckeyes’ season-high 12 three-pointers as she finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Sophomore forwards Dorka Juhasz and Aaliyah Patty combined to go 10-of-12 from the floor, 3-of-3 from beyond the arc and each finished with a team-high 13 points. Patty, the lone Illinois native on the team, was 6-of-7 shooting and grabbed five rebounds.
Freshman Jacy Sheldon turned in a gritty performance, finishing with 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Fellow freshman Rebeka Mikulasikova was the fifth Buckeye in double figures with 10 points.
For the game, Ohio State shot 49.1 perfect from the floor and 46.2 percent from long range. This was the fifth game in the last eight that the Buckeyes made 10 or more threes.
The Ohio State offense was slowed by turnovers in the first half but it found its footing in the second half after limiting its miscues. Conversely, Illinois turned the ball over eight times in the fourth quarter and the Buckeyes took advantage.
For most of the game, each time Ohio State shoved the lead eight, nine or ten points, the Illini would respond with a run. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Buckeyes were able to sustain a run.
The Ohio State bench was also a factor, outscoring Illinois 31-10 on the night.
The Buckeyes return home for a busy day at Value City Arena on Sunday. In addition to hosting Wisconsin, it is National Girls and Women in Sports Day, the annual Pink Day and Alumni Day. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. but come early to take part in all of the festivities.