HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill – Tayler Hill, the former Minneapolis South star, scored 25 points to help Ohio State beat the Gophers 58-47 on Thursday night in the third opening-round game of the Big Ten Conference women’s basketball tournament.
Ashley Adams added 14 points and eight rebounds for the ninth-seeded Buckeyes (18-12), who had lost twice to the Gophers during the regular season.
Sophomore guard Rachel Banham had 20 points, including four three-pointers, for the Gophers (18-13) but didn’t get much help. Banham was 7-for-16 shooting; her teammates were a combined 11-for-45.
“Defense was a starting point for us,” Hill said. “We knew that we had to hard-switch Rachel Banham because any inch we gave her, she’s a good enough shooter to knock that down.
“So defense is where we want to start. We want the pressure, we want to trap and scramble.
“So I think the last five, four minutes of the first half we started to do a pretty good job. In the second half, we came out and did an even better job.”
Ohio State trailed 25-16 with 4 minutes, 7 seconds left in the first half. But the Buckeyes ended the half on an 8-0 run and went into the locker room down by one point. That run stretched to 27-4 in the second half as Ohio State built a 43-29 lead with 10:36 to play.
Amber Stokes’ fast-break layup capped the run and the eighth-seeded Gophers never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
“It was definitely a tale of two halves for us,” Gophers coach Pam Borton said. “We played well for the first 17 minutes, and with Micaella [Riche] and Kionna [Kellogg] getting in foul trouble, I felt like the whole momentum changed in the last three minutes going into halftime and then it kind of carried over into the start of the first half.”
Riche was only 3-for-10 shooting for six points, but she had a career-high 15 rebounds. Kellogg had six points and six rebounds.
“Our team played extremely well defensively, keeping [the Buckeyes] to 35 percent,” Borton said. “They’ve been shooting about 50 percent in the last five games. We outrebounded them [44-41], and just keeping them below 60 points, I felt like if we could, we’d have a chance to win.”
The problem was the Gophers committed 16 turnovers, which led to 19 points for the Buckeyes. Ohio State had only 10 turnovers.
“Some of the things that we did offensively, turning the ball over, missing a lot of layups inside — I think we missed eight layups in the rim in the second half — obviously affected what we were doing offensively,” said Borton, whose Gophers shot 29.5 percent.
“So we didn’t play well enough to win, and I felt like Ohio State was the better team, at least in the second half.”
After a 1-7 midseason slump, the Buckeyes are 7-2 in their past nine games.
The loss almost certainly means the Gophers will miss the NCAA tournament for a fourth year in a row.