Central Michigan stuns Ohio State in NCAA regional
Columbus, Ohio — Cassie Breen threw the ball high the air as the clock wound down Monday night on the biggest victory in Central Michigan women’s basketball history. Seconds later her joyous teammates and coaches were falling into each other’s arms.
Presley Hudson scored 28 points and the No. 11 Chippewas hit a season-high 14 3-pointers in stunning No. 3 Ohio State 95-78 on Monday night to earn the school’s first ever trip to the Sweet 16.
Central Michigan (30-4) had won its first tournament game ever in Saturday’s first-round upset of No. 6 Louisiana State. With the improbable rout of streaking Ohio State, the Chippewas advance to face No. 2 Oregon in Spokane, Washington, on Saturday.
“We’re living the life right now,” Breen said. “We’re on the highest frequency, and we just want to keep it there. We want to celebrate with everybody.”
Central Michigan out-rebounded and out-hustled Ohio State, played taut defense and kept the Buckeyes at bay late in the game.
The Chippewas got plenty of help in the upset from the error-prone Buckeyes, who got behind in the first half and then were run over by momentum and couldn’t climb back in. Central Michigan led by as much as 23 points in the second half as Ohio State struggled to put together a run that would shift the tide.
“I think it was more mentally when things weren’t going our way, we didn’t respond to that adversity like we have, and those were the times Central Michigan really made us pay,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said.
All-American guard Kelsey Mitchell led Ohio State (28-7) with 28 points but hit just 11 of her 29 shots from the floor. Mitchell ended her storied career as the second-leading scorer in NCAA history, but it was wasted as the Buckeyes were denied their third straight trip to the Sweet 16. Mitchell passed Jackie Stiles on Monday and finished with 3,402 points.
“We lost,” said an emotional Mitchell when asked about the feat. “That’s all I can say.”
Breen had 22 points, and Tinara Moore added 20 points and 10 rebounds in Central Michigan’s balanced attack. The team his 14 of 27 3-point tries, including Breen’s 5 for 9.
“This team will not fold,” Chippewas coach Sue Guevara said. “This team is very tough, this team is very focused. We know what we had to do and we went out and did it.”
Stephanie Mavunga had 16 points and 15 rebounds, and Linnae Harper added 14 points for Ohio State (28-7).
Central Michigan: The aggressive and balanced MAC team blows by the Buckeyes with deadly 3-pointers, then keeps up the pressure in the second half to extend their best ever tournament run.
Ohio State: Mitchell gets her game going a little too late and some of her teammates look discombobulated for much of the evening. The Buckeyes hurt themselves as much as Central Michigan dominated them, shooting 39.7 percent for the game.
“Central Michigan did a good job of capitalizing off of what we did wrong,” Mavunga said.
The Chippewas were joined in the Sweet 16 by fellow MAC school Buffalo, which knocked off No. 3 seed Florida State.
“Buffalo is a pretty good team,” said Central Michigan guard Micaela Kelly, who had 15 points Monday night. “We’re putting on for the MAC and showing the world we actually can compete with bigger conferences.”
Ohio State seniors Mitchell, Mavunga, Harper and Asia Doss will move on, leaving McGuff with a rebuilding job. The players talked about making the most of their last NCAA run together, but they were run over on Monday.
Mitchell finished her career with a 3-pointer in an NCAA record 92 straight games.
Central Michigan moves on to play Oregon next Saturday in Spokane, Washington.
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