No. 5 Ohio State wins 10th straight game, 71-47 over Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — 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 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) keep pace with Iowa and stay tied for first place in the Big Ten.

“I don’t think in December we could’ve held any team under 50, let alone a Big Ten team, and a well-coached one like Minnesota. But we’ve gotten better defensively. We’ve made that a point of emphasis,” said coach Kevin McGuff, who hit the 20-win mark for the eighth time in his 11 seasons at Ohio State.

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. The Buckeyes have forced an average of more than 21 turnovers per game.

“You can’t predetermine where you’re going to pass the ball,” coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. “You have to make basic, simple, fundamental basketball reads. Unfortunately, we did not do that in the half court.”

Ohio State had a 26-6 edge in points off turnovers. Minnesota went 4 for 16 from 3-point range.

The full-court press that usually fuels the Buckeyes didn’t give the Gophers much trouble, but those quick hands in the passing and dribbling lanes sure did. Point guard Amaya Battle had eight turnovers, and Minnesota totaled just nine assists on a season-low 16 field goals made.

After a sluggish start, the Buckeyes woke up at halftime. “I need to borrow somebody’s pregame speech because mine aren’t working,” McGuff quipped.

Ohio State outscored Minnesota 26-7 in the third quarter.

“That second half was definitely how we want to play: fast pace and getting the shots and taking the shots we want to take and not what the other team is giving us,” Taylor said.

Sheldon, who ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring, started 0 for 5 until a 3-pointer midway through the second quarter. The 5-foot-10 guard made her usual impact on the game, though, despite going 4 for 13 from the floor.

Early in the third quarter, after Sanders dribbled into traffic in the lane and lost control, Sheldon snagged and without hesitation heaved a football pass the other way to hit Taylor in stride for an uncontested layup and a 34-24 lead.

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 are short-handed without star guard Mara Braun. The league’s fourth-leading scorer, who has missed three games and counting, sat on the bench with her surgically repaired 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.

BIG PICTURE

Ohio State: After reaching the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament last season and adding Duke transfer Taylor to the lineup, the Buckeyes have been zeroed in on taking that next step this spring to the Final Four — which happens to be 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.

UP NEXT

Ohio State: at Michigan State on Sunday.

Minnesota: at Rutgers on Tuesday.

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AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball

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