Texas women’s basketball fends off Ohio State in Sweet 16 showdown
SPOKANE, Wash. — For the second straight season, Texas is heading to the Elite Eight.
Joanne Allen-Taylor scored 17 points and two defensive plays helped Texas hold off Ohio State in a Sweet 16 game at Spokane Arena. Friday’s 66-63 win was UT’s 14th straight and moves the Longhorns 29-6 into the fourth round of the NCAA Tournament.
Continued:In the Sweet 16, Texas basketball seeks more plays in the paint of senior Lauren Ebo
Here are four takeaways from today’s game:
The Longhorns struggle as Rori Harmon sits in rude trouble
During a playoff run in which she had scored 87 points in UT’s three games in the Big 12 Tournament and the first two games in the NCAA Tournament, Harmon encountered something that ultimately slowed her down. This thing, however, was not a Buckeye defender. It was filthy trouble.
Two fouls were called against Harmon in the first eight minutes of Friday’s game. While trying to break Ohio State’s press in the first quarter, Harmon was whistled for an offensive charge. She then fouled Jacy Sheldon on a three-point play that gave Ohio State a 14-12 lead.
Drawn with 2:26 to go in the first frame, Harmon sat out the entire second quarter. Texas crumbled offensively without their star point guard and committed seven first-half turnovers after his exit.
Ohio State built a five-point lead in the second quarter, but the Buckeyes shot just 28.6% from the field this session and were unable to make Texas pay for the extended stay. Harmon on the bench. The Longhorns then closed the first half on a 7-0 run.
A three-point play from Allen-Taylor in the closing seconds of the first half gave UT a 32-30 halftime lead. Along with taking over some of the ball-handling duties in Harmon’s absence, Allen-Taylor scored nine points in the second quarter.
Texas and Aaliyah Moore block Ohio State rally attempt
At the third quarter buzzer, Texas held a 50-45 lead. The lead increased to 10 points at 5:51 of the last frame.
But Ohio State (25-7) is not done. With Texas hampered by Harmon’s ongoing turnovers and foul issues – Ohio State went 6-0 in the 70 seconds Harmon sat after picking up his fourth foul – the Buckeyes rallied. And in the final two minutes, Ohio State shot twice with a point.
After Moore missed a layup attempt, Ohio State called a timeout with 28.2 seconds left. Facing a 64-63 deficit, the Buckeyes had 17 seconds left on the shot clock, so they couldn’t hold off the final blow.
Ohio State kept the ball in Sheldon’s hands but the Buckeyes’ leading scorer missed a jumper. Taylor Thierry grabbed the offensive rebound for Ohio State but his second chance was swept away by Moore.
After being fouled, Harmon had two free throws. There were 10.7 seconds left but Ohio State couldn’t put together a solid look to preserve their season. Moore was credited with a 3-point desperation block from Tanaya Beacham at the buzzer.
Texas holds Ohio State sniper Taylor Mikesell in check
One of the best shooters in the nation, Mikesell made just three 3-pointers on Friday and didn’t touch the basketball on Ohio State’s final possession. She didn’t make her first deep shot until 3:53 remaining in the third quarter.
Texas used a 1-on-1 approach to defend Mikesell, who saw herself in the shadow of Longhorns ranging from Harmon to Shay Holle. Mikesell spent the majority of his evening with either Allen-Taylor or junior guard Aliyah Matharu.
Mikesell, who was averaging 18.6 points per game, still finished with a game-high 19 points. But only nine of those points came from 3-pointers. She made four attempts behind the arch.
Oklahoma senior Taylor Robertson is the only female basketball player to make more 3-pointers than Mikesell. Mikesell, an Ohio native who also played collegiate in Maryland and Oregon, had 114 shots from long range this season.
Texas performed well in the way they defended opposing 3-point shooters. In the 2021-22 season, only UTRGV’s Taylor Muff made five 3-point shots against UT.
As of Friday, Texas had played 11 games against five of the nation’s 3-point shooters. These snipers averaged 2.4 3-pointers in those 11 games. None have made more than four 3-pointers against the Longhorns:
- Jump Hannah Jr. of Stanford (11/14/21): 0 for 1
- Iowa State sophomore Lexi Donarski (1/19/22): 3 for 10
- Oklahoma senior Taylor Robertson (01/29/22): 3 for 8
- Baylor Jr. Ja’Mee Asberry (02/04/22): 4 for 10
- Baylor Jr. Ja’Mee Asberry (02/06/22): 3 for 5
- Oklahoma senior Taylor Robertson (02/12/22): 2 for 6
- Iowa State senior Ashley Joens (02/16/22): 1 for 4
- Iowa State sophomore Lexi Donarski (2/16/22): 0 for 1
- Iowa State senior Ashley Joens (3/12/22): 4 for 10
- Lexi Donarski, sophomore at Iowa State (3/12/22): 3 for 6
- Baylor Jr. Ja’Mee Asberry (3/13/22): 3 for 6
Robertson leads the nation with 124 3-point shots she made in the 2021-22 season. Nationally, Joens, Donarski and Jump were ranked 12th, 16th and 24th respectively in 3-pointers scored at the start of the day. (Those rankings have likely changed since all three players played a game on Friday.) With 80 marks, Asberry was tied for 25th.
With the Final Four on the line, Texas plans a rematch
Texas advances to face either Stanford or Maryland in the Sweet 16 on Sunday. Stanford and Maryland, who are ranked second and 13th in the Associated Press poll, were scheduled to play after the Longhorns and Buckeyes ended their game at Spokane Arena.
No matter who draws Texas, a rematch is on the cards for the Longhorns. In its second game of the 2021-22 season, Texas recorded a 61-56 victory at Stanford. Last year, Texas upset Maryland in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament.
Stanford (30-3) is the top seed in the Spokane area. Maryland (23-8) is ranked third.