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WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Buckeyes pull away from Gophers, 83-75

A disastrous end to the third quarter derailed Minnesota’s chances against a top tier Big Ten opponent

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota was hanging with Ohio State through most of three quarters Saturday, but a disastrous end to the third quarter derailed the Gophers’ chance to beat a top-tier Big Ten team.

Jacy Sheldon scored 32 points, and Taylor Mikesell added 17 to lead the Buckeyes to an 83-75 women’s basketball victory at Williams Arena. Sheldon shot 58% from the floor, made 2 for 3 from beyond the arc and made 10 of 11 free throws, finishing one point off her season high.

Sara Scalia scored 23 points, and Deja Winters added 20 points for Minnesota, which took a one-point lead midway through the third quarter before the wheels fell off.

Ohio State has won five of its past six games to improve to 13-3 overall, 5-2 in conference play. Minnesota fell to 9-9, 2-4.

The Gophers were within 55-49 on a Rose Micheaux free throw with 1:27 left in the third quarter before the Buckeyes closed with a 9-0 run started by Gabby Hutcherson’s 3-pointer. Ohio State then scored six points in the final 36 seconds, made possible after Winters was called for an intentional foul on Tanaya Beacham’s transition bucket with 36 seconds left.

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Sheldon made the two free throws for a 62-49 lead, then hit a running jumper with 13 seconds left to give the Buckeyes a 15-point lead that was never seriously threatened.

Scalia’s layup with 1:05 remaining cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 78-69, but Sheldon essentially sealed Ohio State’s victory with a three-point play off a drive for an 81-69 lead with 44 seconds left.

Scalia had three second-quarter 3-pointers as the Gophers rallied to trail by one, 38-37, at halftime but didn’t make another 3 until midway through the fourth quarter, cutting the Buckeyes’ lead to 74-58.

The Gophers struggled from the floor out of the gate, locked down by a Buckeyes halftime defense that forced five desperate heaves as the shot clock expired – none of them on the mark. On the other end, Ohio State was getting good looks from the post and hitting 3-pointers, shooting 69% on the way to a 23-14 lead.

Minnesota changed the momentum in the second quarter, tightening its halfcourt defense and forcing eight turnovers. Scalia, meanwhile, started heating up. She made two 3-pointers during a 12-4 run that cut Ohio State’s lead to 29-27 with 4:12 left in the half, and her bank shot off a drive gave Minnesota a brief lead, 30-29 with 3:13 to go.

Micheaux and Kadi Sissoko each pulled down seven rebounds for Minnesota.

The Gophers are host to Iowa on Thursday in a 7 p.m. tip at Williams Arena.

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