COLUMBUS — Asked to reflect upon becoming the second all-time leading scorer (3,402 points) in women’s college basketball history on Monday, Ohio State senior guard Kelsey Mitchell responded simply and quietly, “We lost. That’s all I can say.”
As the 3-seed in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Buckeyes (28-7) fell to 11-seed Central Michigan (30-4) 95-78. The loss brought Mitchell’s spectacular career to an end. She leaves it as Ohio State’s all-time leading scorer and the all-time leading scorer in the Big Ten.
“It’s going to take some time,” Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff said when asked to explain Mitchell’s legacy. “She’s been an unbelievable player and just been a great ambassador for our program and for this athletic department and this university.
“She’ll go on to be one of the greatest players to ever play this game. More importantly, she’s a wonderful kid off the court. She’s got an incredibly bright future. Very proud of her and just really fortunate to have had her as part of the program.”
Mitchell scored a game-high 28 points in her final go-round, but it came on 29 shots. She hit just 6-of-16 three-point attempts, and many came while in desperation mode as the game got away from the Buckeyes in the final three quarters.
Ohio State actually led 15-9 after the first quarter, but then the Chippewas responded with quarters of 25, 33, and 28 points over the game’s final 30 minutes. In the third quarter alone, CMU hit 7-of-8 three-point attempts. For the game, they finished 14-of-27 (.519) from three point territory. They also outrebounded the Buckeyes 46-35 for the game.
“We knew going into the scouting that they could all shoot the ball very well,” Mitchell said. “We did our best to contest as many shots as we could. They stayed in a rhythm. After a while they couldn’t miss. For the whole game they couldn’t miss.”
Eventually, the Buckeyes began to press in order to force some turnovers, but that only left shooters open after the Chippewas broke through OSU’s pressure.
“Our rotations were just really, really all over the place and we couldn’t put a body on a body. We were in scramble mode,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell was not the only Buckeye saying goodbye. The graduating seniors also include post player Stephanie Mavunga, who scored 16 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in her final outing. Senior guard Linnae Harper added 14 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
Central Michigan had three players score at least 20 points, and a fourth scored 15. They played just seven players, and the two players off of the bench played just seven and three minutes, respectively.
For Mitchell, her career will now extend into the professional ranks. When asked to express her feelings for Ohio State and Buckeye fans, she was too emotional to answer.
“No,” she said. “I can’t.”
Central Michigan will now move on to the Sweet 16 to face 2-seed Oregon.