By Cynthia Maldonado Perez | @CDMP427
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS – The No. 1-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes tied a scoring record in the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament and reached the semifinal round by defeating No. 9 Northwestern, 99-68, on Friday afternoon.
Ohio State (26-5) will meet No. 5 Purdue on Saturday in a fourth consecutive appearance in the semifinals for the Buckeyes and the 16th overall. The 99 points equaled the total another Buckeye team scored in a 2014 quarterfinal victory over Penn State.
Northwestern (20-11) entered the game with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.2. But against the Buckeyes, the Wildcats committed 21 turnovers and had just 12 assists.
“Our initial pressure was really good,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “And we wanted to make them play 94 feet and try to wear on them. And the only way that really works is if when they inbound the ball we get initial pressure and we got what we wanted today. And I think that really set the tone for everything else.”
Junior guard Kelsey Mitchell led the Buckeyes with 27 points and was one of five players to reach double figures. She is now in second place in Big Ten career three-point field goals made with 359, including 6-for-9 shooting today, and tied for seventh with 179 points in six Big Ten Tournament games.
Mitchell has scored in double figures in all 31 games this season with the Buckeyes. She has reached double figures in 99 of 100 games in her three-year career.
Freshman forward Tori McCoy had her third double-digit rebound contest of the season with 11 rebounds. She also scored 8 points with four blocked shots.
Senior forward Shayla Cooper, freshman guard Kiara Lewis, junior guard Linnae Harper and junior forward Alexa Hart each scored 11 points.
For Northwestern’s Nia Coffey, Ashley Deary, Christen Inman and Allie Tuttle, this was their last game as part of the Wildcats’ team.
Coffey’s 21 points gave her a career total of 207 in nine Big Ten tournament games to tie Ohio State’s Katie Douglas for second place in the 23 tournaments. Douglas scored 207 points in 12 games from 1998-2001. Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender holds the tournament record with 257 points from 2008-2001.
Coffey reached the 20-point mark for the 15th time this season and the 47th time in her career. This is the sixth consecutive game she reached double figures in points and the 26th time this season.
Deary scored 13 points and Inman scored 11. “I think the biggest thing to me personally was all three that are sitting here could have went to hundreds of schools all over the country,” Northwestern coach Joe McKeown said of Coffey, Deary and Inman. “Great high school careers, were highly recruited, great student-athletes. For them to take a chance on Northwestern and then on me, because at the time we were just building, we were trying to turn the program around. And I spent a lot of time recruiting all three and I’m really proud that they bought in not just to me but to Northwestern and our family atmosphere.”
Ohio State’s 31-point win is the largest margin of victory in the Big Ten Tournament since 2012, when Minnesota defeated Wisconsin 81-49. Also, the 33 points in the third quarter were the most points scored by one team in a single quarter in Big Ten Tournament history.
In the only regular-season meeting with the Boilermakers, Ohio State won this year’s game at Purdue, 61-56.
Ohio State has scored at least 87 points in nine of its last ten games. “When we play against opponents that don’t like to run, or aren’t comfortable with that,” Mitchell said, “I think we have to take that and utilize that and make it our positive.”