Jacy Sheldon leads 4 Buckeyes in double figures as Ohio State routs Maine in NCAA tourney opener

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

COLUMBUS — Jacy Sheldon had 19 points and three other Ohio State players scored in double figures as the Buckeyes ran away from Maine 80-57 in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Friday.

The bigger and faster Buckeyes (26-5) swarmed the Black Bears (24-10) with a stifling press, forcing 22 turnovers. Second-seeded Ohio State advances to play seventh-seeded Duke on Sunday.

“I thought we had some great moments today,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “I thought the thing we did well today was we moved the ball. We made the extra pass, and we got some balance in our offense. They played zone for 40 minutes. We were still able to get the ball around the basket. We were able to get open 3s. We were able to get to the free throw line, and if you look at the stat sheet, we really spread the scoring around. I think that’s when we’re usually at our best, when we have balance in our scoring.”

Cotie McMahon, a Centerville High school graduate, scored 13 points for Ohio State, and Celeste Taylor and Taylor Thierry each added 12.

“I think we’ve done a good job all season, in the Big Ten regular season especially, focusing on the game in front of us and the next game,” Sheldon said. “That’s what we’re going to continue to do. We’ll stay and watch (the Richmond-Duke) game. Same thing, be prepared and just focused on our next matchup.”

Anne Simon led Maine with 25 points and Olivia Rockwood had 15.

Maine came out firing, with Rockwood hitting 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions. The Black Bears were up by one with 3:25 left in the first quarter but never led again. The Buckeyes had an 11-2 run to finish the first quarter and outscored Maine 21-8 in the second to lead 43-24 at the break. Maine got no closer than 17 points in the second half.

“(Maine) showed up like a championship team should, and they were ready to go, and they made some big shots early,” McGuff said. “I think we adjusted finally to kind of get them out of the rhythm.”

BLACK BEAR DROUGHT

Maine was looking for its first NCAA Tournament win since 1999.

“I think we said it in the locker room. That’s the standard. The standard is making it to the NCAA Tournament,” Black Bears coach Amy Vachon said. “We know it’s difficult. We haven’t been here for five years. We are fortunate to come two in a row. We went on a little drought. We know how hard it is. We don’t take it for granted. But that’s the standard, and that’s the goal every single year to make the NCAA Tournament, and to compete like heck.”

JACY’S BIG NUMBER

Sheldon scored her 2,000 career point on a layup late in the first half. A native of the Columbus suburb of Dublin, she’s finishing her fifth and final year at Ohio State.

BOUNCING BACK

Ohio State had roared through January and February, wining 15 straight before losing to Caitlin Clark and Iowa in the regular-season finale and being embarrassed by Maryland 82-61 in its Big Ten Tournament opener. McGuff said he ran hard pratices to prepare for Maine, and it paid off.

“We looked much more like ourselves than we did in the Maryland game,” he said. “I think we handled the time and the loss appropriately where we watched film, we processed it and we kind of put it behind us and moved on to this one.”

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