Central Michigan had never won a game in the NCAA tournament before Saturday. Now the Chippewas are going to the Sweet 16.
No. 11 seed Central Michigan didn't just beat No. 3 Ohio State in the second round on the Buckeyes' home court Monday. The Chippewas looked in control from the second quarter on in a 95-78 victory. They made 14 of 27 3-pointers and were led by junior guard Presley Hudson with 28 points. Senior forward Tinara Moore, the Mid-American Conference player of the year, had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
And while Central Michigan was busy ending the Buckeyes' season, the Chippewas' fellow MAC team was doing the same to Florida State. Central Michigan beat Buffalo in the MAC tournament championship, but the No. 11 seed Bulls were rewarded for a great season with an at-large bid to the tournament.
It's the first time since 1996 that two MAC teams were in the NCAA tournament field, and they've made the most of it.
Only twice in the history of the women's NCAA tournament have multiple teams seeded 11th or lower made it to the Sweet 16: in 2012 with No. 11 seeds Gonzaga and Kansas, and in 1996 with No. 11 seed Stephen F. Austin and No. 12 San Francisco. Two other double-digit seeds were in action later Monday: No. 11 Creighton and No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast.
The loss ended the spectacular career of Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell, who scored 28 points to finish with 3,402, second-most in NCAA women's history. She passed Missouri State's Jackie Stiles (3,393) on Monday, and finished behind Washington's Kelsey Plum (3,527).
Ohio State's dream was to make it to the Women's Final Four, which will be held in Columbus. They won the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles, but fell short of advancing to the Sweet 16.
How it was won: The Buckeyes led 15-9 after the first quarter, but then the Chippewas took over. They outscored Ohio State 25-6 in the second quarter as the Buckeyes' defense could not get stops and the offense struggled to get going, too. It was kind of a track meet in the second half, and that worked to the Chippewas' advantage because they were able to get good looks and also get to the foul line. Michigan native Sue Guevara, the Chippewas' coach, told her team to just keep shooting, and their confidence grew as the game went on. They finished 25 of 27 from the free throw line, led by Hudson's 10 of 10.
Player of the game: Hudson, a 5-foot-6 guard from Wayland, Michigan, made 85 3-pointers in both her freshman and sophomore seasons. This season, she has 122, with four coming Monday against Ohio State. And along with her 28 points, she had eight rebounds and five assists.
Stat of the game: As much as the 3-pointers and free throws were a huge deal for the Chippewas, so was their rebounding. They had a 46-35 edge on the boards.
What's next: Central Michigan (30-4) will face No. 2 seed Oregon in the Spokane Regional semifinal on Saturday. Ohio State finishes its season 28-7.