Despite outscoring the Iowa Hawkeyes by eight points in the second half, the Ohio State women’s basketball team came up on the wrong end of an 81-74 final score Sunday in front of a season-high crowd at the Schottenstein Center.
The Buckeyes trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half, but cut the Hawkeye lead to two after senior forward Martina Ellerbe scored with 7:26 left.
However, this was as close as OSU would get, as Iowa (15-5, 3-3) made enough free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
The Buckeyes were once again led by reigning Big Ten player of the week sophomore guard Ameryst Alston, who scored a team-high 24 points.
Iowa was led by freshman guard Ally Disterhoft, who also scored 24 points in her first career start as a Hawkeye.
“Ally Disterhoft responded extremely well in her first start of the year,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said after the game. “Both of our freshmen played well.”
The other freshman to which Bluder referred was guard Alexa Kastanek, who scored 10 points off the bench.
Iowa led, 49-36, at halftime, shooting 56.7 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
“That was the worst defensive half we played all year,” OSU coach Kevin McGuff said after the loss. “Iowa is so good on offense that if you make mistakes defensively, they are going to make you pay.”
Iowa shot 6-12 from behind the arc and forced nine OSU turnovers in the first half.
The lack of communication and concentration is what doomed OSU, Ellerbe said, who played a career high 40 minutes and scored 17 points on 8-10 shooting.
“I think we were well-prepared,” Ellerbe said. “Really, our concentration was not there and I think that is really what changed in the second half for us.”
Despite giving up 49 first half points, OSU was able to crawl back into the game with consistent play on the offensive end.
“I thought offensively we were fine,” McGuff said. “I thought our execution was good and the quality of shots were fine.”
The Buckeyes shot 49.2 percent from the field in the game and scored 42 points in the paint.
The Buckeyes were within three points with 16.6 seconds left, but could not close out the game as Disterhoft made six straight free throws in the final minute.
OSU has now lost two games in a row after upsetting then-ranked No. 22 Indiana on the road Jan. 11.
The Buckeyes (12-9, 2-3) look to rebound Thursday at 7 p.m. when they are scheduled to travel to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan (13-5, 4-1).