Taylor Mikesell had something to prove. So did the entire Ohio State women’s basketball team.
After being thoroughly dominated in their two previous games against the two other top teams in the Big Ten — Indiana and Michigan — Ohio State found the type of energy through 40 minutes that coach Kevin McGuff had been looking for all season on Thursday night at Value City Arena against No. 12 Maryland.
The Buckeyes (14-3, 6-2 Big Ten) had arguably their most dominant quarter this season in the first quarter, shooting 9 of 12 from the floor, and continued to fluster Maryland with their full-court press. However, up 11 with 2:13 remaining, Ohio State couldn’t put the game away.
The Terrapins (12-6, 4-3 Big Ten) shrunk the Ohio State lead down to four on four different occasions, but Ohio State made its final two shots and six of its final seven free throws to hold on for a 95-89 upset victory and its first signature win of the season and fifth win in a row.
"We played really hard and we competed for 40 minutes," McGuff said. "We made mistakes. That's going to happen. But our competitive character was as good as it's been. That's what I'm most proud of."
Mikesell began her career at Maryland and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in the 2018-19 season. She has been every bit of a catalyst for the Ohio State offense in her first season in Columbus, but this was one of the top performances of her career.
Mikesell knocked down three 3-pointers in the first quarter to spring Ohio State to a 25-15 lead. Maryland held her quiet in the third, but the sharpshooter began to find space inside the arc in the fourth quarter for 10 points on a perfect 4 of 4 from the floor. She led the Buckeyes with 33 points on 11-of-13 shooting and 5 of 5 from 3-point range.
"That was incredibly special," McGuff said. "We needed every bit of it."
Mikesell said she would be lying if she said this game was just another game without any added significance.
"At the end of the day, it’s a home game, we’re trying to show out,” Mikesell said. “We had a great week of prep. Came out here, everybody was locked in from the start.”
Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon was just 3-of-9 shooting with nine points entering the fourth quarter with her team leading 65-57. She scored 15 points in the final frame, making five of eight shots.
Without point guards Kateri Poole and Madison Greene, Sheldon was given the responsibility of being the primary ball-handler. She dished out 10 assists, helping keep the Buckeye offense on pace as Maryland made their comeback attempts throughout the game.
"You have to respect her as a scorer but then she just creates so many opportunities for everybody else,” Mikesell said.
Ohio State held Maryland’s second-leading scorer Ashley Owusu to 3-of-15 shooting and just 12 points. Leading scorer Angel Reese had 22 points and 11 rebounds, while forward Chloe Bibby scored 14 of her 20 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Maryland comeback.
Early in the fourth quarter, Ohio State appeared to be on its way to a comfortable win. Mikesell drilled a corner three for a nine-point lead. After a third straight miss for the Terrapins, frustration began to set in as Maryland forward Mimi Collins was called for a foul with 7:18 left.
Ohio State’s Braxtin Miller and Sheldon immediately complained to the officials that Collins shoved Miller in the back of the head. The officials looked at the replay and handed Collins a technical foul to give Ohio State two shots and the ball. From that point on, with the Buckeyes up 11, Maryland began to trim the lead.
They made 11 of 17 shots in the final seven minutes of the game, including their last five shots. But the Buckeyes didn’t flinch. They sunk eight of their final 10 shots, highlighted by five straight points from Sheldon and an ensuing steal that led to a Mikesell layup to give Ohio State an 82-70 lead with 3:54 left.
"We’re playing really well right now. We’re playing really together,” Sheldon said. “We played really great defense tonight, which is the difference for us.”
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Taylor Mikesell shines in Ohio State's upset win over No. 12 Maryland