Ohio State women's basketball loses third straight, falling 73-65 to unranked Purdue
That 19-0 start for the Ohio State's women's basketball season seems like a distant memory now.
It was one thing to lose to No. 10 Iowa and its national player of the year candidate Caitlin Clark last Monday. Losing Thursday to No. 6 Indiana in Bloomington also wasn't a shock.
But Sunday's 73-65 loss to Purdue despite a gritty second-half comeback at Value City Arena can't be so easily dismissed. The Buckeyes are destined to take a plunge from their current No. 2 ranking.
The Boilermakers (15-6 overall, 6-5 Big Ten) are unranked, though they defeated No. 22 Illinois on the road Thursday.
More:How did the Indiana game get away from Ohio State so quickly?
"We talked about that as a team," Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said, "like, 'Hey, this is not a team you can overlook. They're playing really good basketball right now, and if we're not on point they can, they can come in here and win.' And that's what happened."
Purdue took control early thanks to sizzling 3-point shooting. The Boilermakers, who entered the game making 33.6% of their 3s, made 7 of their first 8 from that range to take a 41-29 halftime lead.
"It was the worst half of defending the 3 that we've had all year, and they made us pay," McGuff said.
Purdue eventually cooled off, and the Buckeyes (19-3, 8-3) rallied to tie the game at 58 with 4:28 left. But Madison Layden barely beat the shot clock with a basket on Purdue's next possession to put the Boilermakers back ahead. Following an OSU turnover, Layden then hit a 3-pointer. Abbey Ellis, who had a game-high 26 points, scored another basket for a 65-58 lead with 2:15 left. The Buckeyes couldn't mount another rally.
More:After clunker at Illinois, can Ohio State be better at Indiana?
Ohio State led only once, but that 11-10 lead was swiftly erased by the Boilermakers' hot outside shooting and the Buckeyes' offensive struggles against Purdue's zone.
Taylor Thierry scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the first half, but the rest of the Buckeyes missed 23 of 29 shots.
Taylor Mikesell, who averages 18.5 points, was scoreless in the first half on 0-of-6 shooting. Freshman Cotie McMahon, who'd been on a tear lately, had only five points after missing 5 of 7 shots.
When Purdue scored the first five points of the second half to take a 46-29 lead, the Buckeyes looked doomed.
Mikesell finally got untracked by making a layup and two straight 3-pointers. When McMahon scored on a putback, the Buckeyes trailed only 48-41.
But Ohio State didn't score again for 4 minutes and trailed 52-44 after three quarters.
The Buckeyes caught the Boilermakers when Thierry scored on a feed by Rebeka Mikulisikova. But Thierry fouled out on the next Buckeye possession when called for charging with 4:09 left. She led OSU with 18 points.
Layden's baskets put Purdue back ahead. Any chance for a last-minute comeback ended when Ellis hit a 3-pointer with 43 seconds remaining for a 70-61 lead.
"It's just really frustrating," McGuff said. "When we had stretches where we had good focus and good energy, we looked good. Our press looked good and all that. But then we had stretches where it didn't.
"We've got to get way closer to 40 minutes of playing the type of basketball we're capable of if we want to win. Credit Purdue. They were more focused and more ready from the tip, and that ultimately was the difference."
The Buckeyes now have to regroup at Wisconsin on Wednesday.
"There's a lot of basketball left and a lot of league play left," Mikesell said. "You don't want to be playing your best basketball right now, and it's good to take a little bit of adversity, take it on the chin, and get better."
The Buckeyes have been playing without injured guards Madison Greene and Jacy Sheldon. Greene is out for the year, but Sheldon's much-awaited return could be imminent.
"We've been going week to week with Jacy, and now I think more day to day, so it's close, so it's close," McGuff said. "She's out there doing some things on the court. But we're just still making sure that we give it the proper amount of time before we get her back out there, but it'll be soon."
Get more Ohio State news by listening to our podcasts
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State women's basketball loses third straight, 73-65 to Purdue.