COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)Taylor Thierry scored a career-high 21 points and Taylor Mikesell added 16 as No. 3 Ohio State won its 10th game in a row Sunday defeating Michigan State 74-68.
The Buckeyes (10-0) led by as many as 18 points in the first half before the Spartans cut it down to one with 1:44 left in the fourth quarter.
Taylor Mikesell made four free throws in the final minute and Madison Greene added another as Michigan State missed four of its last six shot attempts.
”We showed really good competitive character,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. ”We kept fighting and scratching and clawing and just doing whatever we had to try to find a way to win.”
Greene tallied 15 points and Cotie McMahon had eight points alongside 10 rebounds.
The Spartans’ press defense troubled the Buckeyes early as Michigan State (6-5) led 13-11 midway through the opening quarter. Greene sank four free throws as Ohio State closed the first quarter on a 10-0 run.
Thierry tied her previous career best in the first half behind 15 points in that span. She helped Ohio State command a 42-32 lead at halftime.
Ohio State shot 35.7% in the second half and 41.7% overall.
Moira Joiner led the Spartans with 16 points and Gabby Elliott had 11 but exited due to a leg injury in the third quarter.
”I just think we battled,” Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said. ”We had our opportunities to win the game, and at the next level is just making that play, making that shot.”
COMFORTABLE IN THE UNCOMFORTABLE
Thierry entered the game shooting a team-best 72.1% from the field and topped that by going 10 of 13.
She had season-highs of nine rebounds and two blocks, and capped her performance with a layup as the clock expired.
”My goal was to work on getting out of my comfort zone and then being comfortable being out of my comfort zone,” Thierry said. ”It’s starting to work out and it showed a little bit today.”
DOWN THE STRETCH
Ohio State had won its first nine games this season by at least 12 points.
The Buckeyes shot a game-worst 28.6% in the fourth quarter and came up empty on all five 3-point attempts. But they forced two turnovers and made five of six free throws in the final 33 seconds to seal the win.
”It would be wrong if we were in our March form right now,” Mikesell said. ”There’s going to be a little bit of adversity that might stump us at times, but happy with how we fought tonight.”
Guard Jacy Sheldon missed her third-consecutive game with a right ankle injury. Ohio State’s steals leader has now been held out of five games this season due to the ailment.
”I’d say probably week to week right now,” McGuff said.
Michigan State: The Spartans losing streak extends to five games as they were turned over 22 times, their second-most giveaways in a game this season.
Ohio State: Greene scored eight of her points in the second half and combined with Mikesell to go 17 of 19 at the free throw line. The Buckeyes’ team 72% at the line kept them ahead in the second half.
Michigan State: Hosts Detroit Mercy Dec. 18.
Ohio State: Hosts Albany Friday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll