Lexington, Ky.-- Ohio State is heading back to the Sweet 16 after its 82-68 victory over Kentucky on Sunday afternoon.
This is the 11th trip to the Sweet 16 for Ohio State and the second consecutive season it has advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. This is the first time the Buckeyes have made it this far in consecutive seasons since a run of five straight Sweet 16 appearances from 1985-89.
Kelsey Mitchell led the way with 21 points, 10 of which came in an electric first quarter for the junior. Linnae Harper had a fantastic game for the Buckeyes as well, racking up numbers all over the box score in her first game against her former team. Harper poured in 12 points and hauled in 10 rebounds while dishing out eight assists, her third double-double of the season. Tori McCoy also had a double-double for OSU, grabbing a team-high and personal season-high 12 rebounds to go along with her 14 points.
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Mitchell made three of her shot attempts from beyond the arc against UK, putting her atop the Big Ten's all-time career 3-pointers made list.
Though Kentucky made it close in the second half, the first half was all Ohio State. Mitchell hit a three just five seconds into the game right after the Buckeyes won the opening tip, setting the tone for a high octane first 20 minutes of basketball. A 14-2 run to start the second quarter coupled with the Wildcats making just five of their 20 attempts from the field helped propel OSU to a 15 point halftime lead.
The Wildcats made a comeback attempt in the later stages of the game. A 13-2 run towards the end of the third quarter that leaked into the fourth made it a one possession game after Ohio State led by as many as 19. The Buckeyes weren't up against the wall for long though; they ended the game on a 17-4 run, during which McCoy and Shayla Cooper shouldered the offensive load.
For Kentucky it was the usual suspects who did the most damage on the floor. Makayla Epps led her team with 21 points and Evelyn Akhator scored 14 points of her own while grabbing a whopping 23 rebounds.
Ohio State will be back in Lexington next weekend and will face the winner of the Notre Dame-Purdue game, which will be played at 9:00 p.m. ET on Sunday night.
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