Women's basketball | N. Carolina 57, Ohio State 54: Buckeyes’ comeback ends with late loss
Ohio State women overcome deficit, but lead slips away
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Somewhere between what looked like a precipitous fall and an ugly date with a rocky bottom, the Ohio State women’s basketball team found a way to fly for a while last night at Carmichael Arena.
The 15th-ranked Buckeyes still lost a heartbreaking 57-54 game to No. 22 North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten challenge. But turning a 16-point deficit with 10:12 left into a 54-51 lead at the 1:26 mark kept the landing from feeling as badly as a blowout.
Senior guard Tayler Hill, who got 14 of her 24 points in the second half, paused a moment before describing her feelings.
“I’m a little frustrated,” she said. “We didn’t come out the first half or at the beginning of the second half like we should have. It’s just … uhh. They’re a physical, fast team but we played into their hands. We played too quick. We took too many 15-foot jump shots.”
The Tar Heels (7-0) switched between man and zone defenses, trapped and pushed the tempo with the hope of scoring off turnovers. The strategy worked early and late with Tierra Ruffin-Pratt scoring twice off steals in the final minute to save the victory for North Carolina.
“Our defense picked up tremendously at the end,” Ruffin-Pratt said. “We just had to work to get the lead back and then keep the lead.”
The Buckeyes (4-2) looked like they had broken the Tar Heels during a furious run from a 46-30 deficit with 10:12 left. Hill hit a three-pointer, a layup and another three-pointer in a 1:15 stretch to give Ohio State hope.
“We started to change defenses and to rebound the ball a little bit better,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. “It’s a simple game. It’s not real complicated. Sometimes players can complicate it. I think we did a good job of that at points tonight.
“Once we got in a rhythm of being to change the defenses and getting some rebounds, which got us an opportunity for us to get down the floor and get some looks early.”
Foster tried multiple players in combination with Hill and senior guard Amber Stokes to stop the bleeding. He even sat Hill and Stokes early in the second half after his team missed its first seven shots.
What was his message?
“I had a little discussion with them,” Foster said. “I wanted them to play better, and I think they did.”
Hill returned two minutes later to hit the first Ohio State basket after the break but North Carolina stayed firmly in control.
Ultimately, the combination of Hill, Stokes, Ashley Adams, Darryce Moore and Ameryst Alston took flight. Alston connected on a three-pointer with 3:33 left to give Ohio State a 48-47 lead.
The game seesawed from there to the bitter end — with Ruffin-Pratt’s two clutch steals and a missed three-point try by Hill as time expired. Every loss hurts.
“I think it shows that we have fight in us,” Hill said. “I think it also shows the game should never have been this way if we had played the way we did the last 10 minutes of the game in the first 30 minutes.”
Ruffin-Pratt, Xylina McDaniel and Waltiea Rolle each scored 11 for the Tar Heels. Hill was the only Buckeye to score in double figures.