No. 5 Ohio State wins 10th-straight game, 71-47 over Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS — Cotie McMahon had 13 points and nine rebounds, Jacy Sheldon shrugged off a tough shooting night with 12 points and six assists, and fifth-ranked Ohio State beat Minnesota 71-47 on Thursday night for its 10th consecutive victory.
Celeste Taylor added 14 points and two blocks and Rebeka Mikulasikova scored 11 points to help the Buckeyes (20-3, 11-1) stay in first place in the Big Ten.
Janay Sanders scored 16 points for the Gophers (14-9, 4-8), who lost their fifth game in a row and had a season-high 23 turnovers.
Sheldon, who has flourished in her fifth season with the Buckeyes and ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring, started 0 for 5 until a 3-pointer she swished from the wing midway through the second quarter. The 5-foot-10 guard made her usual impact on the game, though.
Early in the third quarter, after Sanders dribbled into traffic in the lane and lost control, Sheldon snagged it for one of her two steals and without hesitation heaved a football pass the other way to hit Taylor in stride for an uncontested layup and a 34-24 lead.
Perimeter defense and a relentless press fuels these Buckeyes, with a Big Ten-best average of 10-plus steals per game and the second-best 3-point defense in the conference with an allowance rate of 28.6% from behind the arc entering the game. Their opponents average more than 21 turnovers per game.
Ohio State had a 26-6 edge in points off turnovers. Minnesota went 4 for 16 from 3-point range.
The Buckeyes, whose two nonconference losses came to now-No. 9 UCLA and now-No. 10 USC, haven’t been beaten since Dec. 30 at Michigan. Their streak has included wins over now-No. 2 Iowa and now-No. 14 Indiana, the two other leading Big Ten title contenders. They notched their highest ranking of the season this week in the latest Associated Press poll.
The Gophers have made clear progress under first-year coach Dawn Plitzuweit, but they’re short-handed without star guard Mara Braun. She has missed three games with a foot injury that required surgery, putting her return this season in question. Braun is fourth in the league in scoring.
They’re going to need several more wins to make it to the NCAA Tournament. The graduate transfer Sanders was again in the starting lineup for Braun, who sat on the bench with her right foot in a walking boot resting on the elevated court.
Ohio State has won 13 straight games against Minnesota. The last time the Gophers won in the series was at Williams Arena on Feb. 24, 2016, when the Buckeyes were also ranked fifth.
Ohio State: After reaching the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament last season and adding the Duke transfer Taylor to their lineup, the Buckeyes have been zeroed in on taking that next step this spring to the Final Four — which happens to be held this time in their backyard in Cleveland.
Minnesota: The Gophers have lost 27 straight games to ranked teams, with the last win on Nov. 17, 2019, against Arizona State. The last ranked Big Ten team the Gophers beat was Rutgers on Feb. 3, 2019.
Ohio State: at Michigan State on Sunday.
Minnesota: at Rutgers on Tuesday.