March 8, 2014

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INDIANAPOLIS — Ohio State’s tournament run came to an end Saturday in a 77-73 loss to No. 5 seed Iowa in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Fresh off a stunning victory over No. 1 Penn State the day before — a game in which Ohio State set three tournament records — Ohio State was looking to advance to its sixth tournament title game in nine years, but came up just short.

“It was a really hard fought game,” head coach Kevin McGuff said. “I think both teams played well, and I’m really proud of our players for the effort they put forth today and through this whole tournament. We had several opportunities in the second half where we could have went away, but we kept fighting and we gave ourselves a chance at the end.”

Iowa’s Theairra Taylor scored 21 points and made the go-ahead layup with 1:32 left as the Hawkeyes held on for a win.

The Buckeyes trailed the entire game, but never quit fighting and saved their best run for last. Down by eight, 73-65, with 4:34 remaining, Ohio State went on an 8-0 run with all eight points coming from senior Darryce Moore on two field goals and four free throws.

After Taylor’s go-ahead layup gave Iowa (26-7) a 75-73 lead, Ameryst Alston missed a layup on Ohio State’s ensuing possession. Iowa then had a chance to go up two possessions, but Cait Craft drew a charge on Iowa’s Ally Disterhoft to set up one more chance for the Buckeyes.

Coming out of a timeout, Martina Ellerbe would miss a potential game-winning 3-pointer from the corner for Ohio State (17-18) with 10 seconds left and Melissa Dixon sunk two free throws for Iowa with a second remaining as the Hawkeyes advanced to the Big Ten title game for the first time since 2010.

Bethany Doolittle and Disterhoft each added 18 points and Melissa Dixon scored 16 for Iowa, which never trailed the entire game.

Alston led Ohio State with 20 points while Ellerbe and Moore each added 15 in their final game as Buckeyes. Raven Ferguson added nine and Craft eight. Alston finished the tournament with 83 points in three games after scoring 30 and 33 in wins over Northwestern and Penn State, respectively.

Ohio State outrebounded Iowa, 34-31, and shot better from the field — 52 percent to 43 — but Iowa connected on eight three-pointers that was ultimately the difference in the game.

“I’m very, very proud of this group, especially our seniors,” McGuff added. “Any time you take over a job, the thing you wish for most is you inherit great kids. And we have some wonderful young women in this program and it was a real pleasure to coach them this year.”