End of an era for OSU’s Kelsey Mitchell

Kelsey Mitchell’s last shot in an Ohio State women’s basketball uniform was one she made at least a couple hundred times before: A pull-up jumper from a few feet behind the 3-point line that hit nothing but net.

Unfortunately for the third-seeded Buckeyes, this one came well after the outcome of their second-round NCAA tournament game against Central Michigan had been decided Monday night at St. John Arena.

Except for a few minutes early, the 11th-seeded Chippewas looked like the favorite most of the night, running and gunning and throwing in 3s from all over the floor en route to a 95-78 win.

Mitchell scored 28 points to finish with 3,402 for her career.

That is No. 1 in Big Ten annals while trailing only Washington’s Kelsey Plum on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list (3,527). Mitchell passed Jackie Stiles of Missouri State to move into second place with a breakaway layup in the fourth quarter.

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Mitchell, a three-time Big Ten Player of the Year, also holds the NCAA record for 3-pointers with 497, but when it was over, she didn’t have much to say.

As was the case throughout her four years with the Scarlet and Gray, she preferred to focus on the outcome for the team.

“We lost,” she replied to a question about her accomplishments. Later she could only offer a teary-eyed, “No…. I can’t,” when asked to sum up her feelings as the final minutes ticked off the clock.

Coach Kevin McGuff was able to sing her praises, though.

“She’s been an unbelievable player and just been a great ambassador for our program and for this athletic department and this university,” McGuff said. “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.”

Ohio State led by as many as 10 in the first quarter, but the Chippewas scored the last four points of the stanza to close within 15-9.

Then the visitors dominated the second quarter and never looked back.

The Big Ten champions missed 11 of 13 shots from the field and committed six turnovers against an aggressive CMU defense and while being outscored 25-6.

“First of all, give Central Michigan credit,” McGuff said. “They played a great game and they deserved to win. They were outstanding today and they’ve got a great basketball team.

“They were well-prepared and their kids really executed at a high level tonight, but I don’t think we handled the adversity of them making shots or them going on a run. We kind of got out of the things that make us a good basketball team. And when that happened, they really made us pay.”

The Chippewas used a 20-1 run that started late in the first quarter to open up a 25-16 lead.

Mitchell halted that by rattling home a jumper from the elbow with 3:12 on the clock.

She had a chance to make it a three-point game with 2:18 left but missed a free throw.

Then the Buckeyes gave up three consecutive 3-pointers, two wide-open looks for Cassie Breen and one a fade-away by Presley Hudson off the dribble.

That plunged the Buckeyes into a 34-21 hole from which they never recovered.

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