NCAA
Mechelle Voepel, espnW.com 610d

Instant Analysis: How Kelsey Mitchell went wild to lift Ohio State

Women's College Basketball, Ohio State Ohio State, West Virginia West Virginia

Ohio State made it to the Sweet 16 for the eighth time in program history, but it took a huge effort from the Buckeyes sophomore guard Kelsey Mitchell. No surprise there: She specializes in that.

Mitchell scored 45 points as the No. 3 seed Buckeyes held off No. 6 seed West Virginia 88-81. It was the fourth-highest total in an NCAA tournament women's game, following Drake's Lorri Bauman with 50 in the 1982 Elite Eight, Texas Tech's Sheryl Swoopes with 47 in the 1993 championship game, and Stanford's Jayne Appel's 46 in the 2009 regional final.

It was the first 40-point effort in the NCAA tournament since Baylor's Brittney Griner had 40 points in 2011. Mitchell was 11 of 31 from the field, making five 3-pointers, and tying an NCAA tournament record for made free throws with 18 in 22 attempts. Notre Dame's Natalie Novosel also made 18 in a second-round game in 2012.

It was a big day of basketball in Columbus, as the Ohio State men faced Florida in the NIT at nearby Value City Arena -- which is now the two basketball teams' usual home -- and the women were playing at the gym where past standouts like Katie Smith (who was calling the game for ESPN2) gained fame: St. John Arena.

It is the Buckeyes' first trip to the regional semifinals since 2011; last year, they lost on a last-second shot in the second round at North Carolina.

How the game was won: As good as West Virginia's defense typically is, the Mountaineers just couldn't stop Mitchell. But the Buckeyes also got 15 points and 10 rebounds from Shayla Cooper. And guard Ameryst Alston, who had been out with a wrist injury since the Big Ten tournament, came back and scored six points.

Player of the game: Who else? Mitchell has totaled 72 points in her two NCAA tournament games in 2016. Can anyone slow her down?

Turning point: With 1:16 left and the Buckeyes leading 80-77, Ohio State missed a 3-point attempt, and then West Virginia did the same. On the next Buckeye possession, West Virginia fouled Mitchell on a drive and sent her to the line. She hit both free throws to put Ohio State up 82-77, and they were able to hold on from there.

X factor: Turnovers. West Virginia had 27, and that killed the Mountaineers. The Buckeyes scored 40 of their points off Mountaineer turnovers, including in the closing seconds when West Virginia turned the ball over again, leading to Mitchell's layup.

Stat of the game: We would say it was the turnovers, but it has to be Mitchell's 45 points, right? We have become accustomed to Mitchell rising to the occasion in her young career, but this was really special.

What's next: The Buckeyes move on to the Sioux Falls regional semifinals, where they will face the winner of Sunday night's late game between No. 2 seed Arizona State and No. 7 Tennessee. West Virginia, which was trying to make its first Sweet 16 since 1992, finishes its season at 25-10. Senior Bria Holmes finished her career with 21 points, which gave her 2,001 for her career.

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