COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)Taylor Mikesell scored 20 of her 25 points in the second half, leading No. 14 Ohio State to an 87-75 victory over No. 5 Tennessee on Tuesday night in the season opener.
Ohio State erased Tennessee’s 41-33 halftime lead and outscored the Lady Vols 30-13 in the third quarter. Mikesell powered the Buckeyes’ surge as they closed the third on a 12-0 run, contributing 10 points during that span.
The Lady Vols narrowed the lead to eight points with 5:43 to go, but the Buckeyes wouldn’t let it get close.
”It does set a tone for us,” Mikesell said. ”We ended on a really high note last year, and I think we have an unbelievable ceiling.”
Reigning Big Ten regular-season champion Ohio State forced 29 turnovers, leading to 37 points. The Buckeyes shot 51% from the field, including 63.3% in the second half.
Mikesell went 4 for 10 on her 3-point attempts. Jacy Sheldon swiped a career-high eight steals and scored 14 points as Ohio State had five players reach double figures.
”If the dictionary had a definition of team win, this thing would be sitting next to it,” Ohio State Kevin McGuff said.
Jordan Horston led Tennessee with 20 points and Jasmine Powell contributed 10. The Lady Vols shot 48% and held a 40-30 advantage on the glass.
”I thought, especially in the third quarter, we became really passive,” Tennessee coach Kellie Harper said. ”The more passive we became, the more aggressive Ohio State became, and we just couldn’t get that back.”
Ohio State scored 23 points off 11 turnovers in the third quarter alone.
The Buckeyes made 16 steals compared to Tennessee’s four, and it turned into extra opportunities for Mikesell and Ohio State to take advantage.
”We settled down a little bit on defense,” Mikesell said. ”Finally started to get some stops and then got some easy looks, and then shots started falling at the end of the day.”
GREENE GETS BACK TO ACTION
Ohio State saw the return of Madison Greene, who missed last season due to a knee injury.
Greene scored seven points and had her hand in four assists, three steals and three rebounds.
”Bringing Madison back into that was really good to have three defensive players,” Mikesell said. ”That’s why I think we got a lot of stops.”
Horston returned to her hometown of Columbus where she attended nearby Columbus Africentric Early College High School.
”It was amazing to see my family in the stands,” Horston said. ”I’m just glad that they came and supported me. It’s not the outcome I wanted but, you know, it’s OK. It’s a part of basketball. Win some, lose some.”
SHELDON’S CAREER NIGHT
Sheldon, who led Ohio State with nearly 20 points per game last season, played all but one minute of the Buckeyes’ season-opening win.
Sheldon led Ohio State with seven assists while going a team-best 5 of 6 from the free throw line.
”She plays so hard and I don’t think people realize how good of an athlete is,” McGuff said. ”She’s got a great first step. She seemed to make some timely plays on both ends of the floor that were really important.”
Tennessee: Powell, who transferred after three seasons at Minnesota, shot 7 of 12. She’s among four Tennessee transfers, and three of whom earned all-conference honors at their previous programs.
Ohio State: Mikesell’s three 3-pointers in the second half helped the Buckeyes overcome a 1-for-10 start from beyond the arc. She was Ohio State’s 3-point leader as the team shot 37.6% from 3-point land last season, finishing second in the Big Ten.
Tennessee: Hosts UMass Tuesday.
Ohio State: Travels to Boston College on Sunday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll