INDIANAPOLIS - It wasn’t even close.
The ninth seeded Northwestern Wildcats (20-11, 8-8 B1G) went down early and never recovered en route to a blowout 99-68 loss to the first seeded Ohio State Buckeyes (26-5, 15-1) Friday afternoon at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.
Kelsey Mitchell led all scorers with 27 points while shooting a torrid 9-of-15 from the field and 6-of-9 from three. The trio of Linnae Harper, Kiara Lewis and Shayla Cooper were all in double digits as well with all three scoring 11, while Cooper also added nine rebounds.
For Northwestern, Nia Coffey had 21 points and 8 rebounds, but fouled out late in the fourth quarter. Christen Inman and Ashley Deary were both in double digits as well, with 11 and 13 respectively, but it just wasn’t enough offense to keep up with Ohio State.
Both teams actually started off cold from the field as Northwestern was 1-of-9 and Ohio State was 3-of-9. Northwestern yet again missed shot after shot at the rim, while most of Ohio State’s midrange jumpers rattled out. But for the Buckeyes, two of their first three shots were three-pointers and despite the poor shooting, led 10-3 early and forced Joe McKeown to call a timeout.
Out of the timeout, Ohio State didn’t slow down at all. Another three-pointer contributed to the team’s extended 10-0 run and gave them a 15-3 lead. Down the stretch in quarter Nia Coffey managed to get Northwestern back on the board, but the Buckeyes just kept hitting from deep.
To make matters worse, Northwestern was unable to break Ohio State’s full court press. Even when it did, Northwestern had trouble scoring. The Buckeyes were 4-of-6 from three in the quarter and led 23-11.
Then in the second quarter, everything fell apart.
Ashley Deary picked up her third foul early in the quarter and Coffey picked her third just a few minutes later. Meanwhile, Ohio State stayed red hot from the field, ripping off an extended 21-4 run, which included an 8-0 and 7-0 run. Northwestern continued to turn the ball over, and without Deary or Coffey on the floor the offense ground to a halt.
Then to add insult to injury, Kiara Lewis hit a wild buzzer beater three-pointer to end the half and put Ohio State up 51-24.
Things did not improve in third quarter. Pretty much any hope of a Northwestern comeback was destroyed by a Kelsey Mitchell 9-0 run that included two straight pull-up three-pointers.
Northwestern’s offense picked it up considerably in the third quarter, scoring 23 points, but most of that probably had to do with the fact that they were down by more than 30 the entire time.
Meanwhile, Ohio State continued to score and shoot well from deep. The Buckeyes shot 4-of-7 from deep in the quarter and scored 33 points. With a whole ten minutes of game time left, they had scored a whopping 84 points and led 84-47.
The fourth quarter saw play primarily from Ohio State’s bench players. While Northwestern did end the quarter, but it wouldn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. The unstoppable Ohio State offense had been too much early on, and Northwestern lost 99-68.
This loss eliminates Northwestern from the Big Ten Tournament and essentially knocks them out of NCAA Tournament contention. The WNIT is certainly still in play, so we’ll see if the best senior class in Northwestern history gets at least one more game.