LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Taylor Mikesell scored a season-high 26 points to help lead No. 4 Ohio State to a 96-77 victory over No. 18 Louisville in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge Wednesday night.
In a battle of teams with similar styles, the Buckeyes (7-0) survived a sluggish first half to mount the comeback. They used a 14-0 fourth quarter run to take command. It was one of two big second half runs they enjoyed as the Buckeyes shot 66.7% in the second half.
The Buckeyes played their normal aggressive style throughout the game, but coach Kevin McGuff said his team was able to wear down Louisville in the second half. That led to the Cardinals (5-3) committing 15 of their season-high 24 turnovers after halftime. Meanwhile, Ohio State committed just eight of its 20 after the break.
“We kept up with the press, and we were able to, I think, wear them down a little bit with that,” he said. “When that started to happen, we started to get out and get some easy baskets in transition.”
Ohio State trailed 50-37 in the opening minute of the third quarter before going on an 11-0 run to get back in the game. A Mikesell layup gave the Buckeyes a 61-59 advantage, their first lead of the game, with 2:38 left in the period.
Mikesell made 10-of-16 shots, including 5-of-7 in the second half. The senior guard was one of four Buckeyes to score in double figures. Jacy Sheldon scored 15 of her 22 points in the second half, and Rebeka Mikulášiková added 21 in the victory.
Sheldon, who had missed the previous two games with a lower leg injury, said a switch to a four-guard lineup in the second half was key to the rally.
“Mainly, taking care of the ball. We didn’t do a great job that first half,” she said. “They sped us up a little bit. At halftime, honestly, we just had to regroup, play the way we do, and in the second half, we did that. We got going off each other defensively, and then when our defense gets going, our offense gets going.”
The Cardinals (5-3) shot 43.5%, but they made just 6-for-21 (28.6%) in the fourth quarter as the Buckeyes pulled away. Louisville also failed to convert inside as the Cardinals made just 16-of-30 layups.
Louisville coach Jeff Walz didn't think the Buckeyes pressure led to the loss. Instead, he said his team “collapsed” defensively in the second half.
“We scored enough points to win,” he said. “We just did not defend.”
Hailey Van Lith led Louisville with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but she made just 3-of-11 shots in the second half. She also committed eight turnovers. Morgan Jones added 15 points, and Chrislyn Carr finished with 14.
Wednesday marked the first time since the end of the 2018-19 season that Louisville scored at least 70 points and lost, a span of 66 games. UConn's 80-73 win over Louisville in the 2019 NCAA Tournament Albany Region final was the last time that occurred. The Cardinals are now 295-24 when scoring at least 70 with Walz as coach.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes proved their championship-caliber mettle Wednesday by coming back from a double-digit deficit in the second half in one of the toughest atmospheres in the country.
Louisville: The Cardinals held big leads in both halves, but the Buckeyes quickness and pressure finally got to them in the second half. The three November losses equal as many as Louisville had in the previous six Novembers combined.
Ohio State begins Big Ten play on Sunday afternoon when they visit Rutgers.
Louisville plays at Middle Tennessee on Sunday.