INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Ameryst Alston scored 30 points and Darryce Moore and Martina Ellerbe had double-doubles as 8th-seeded Ohio State pulled away in the closing minutes on Thursday to defeat 9th-seeded Northwestern 86-77 in the opening game of the Big Ten Tournament.
Alston, who finished one point shy of matching her career-high, broke a 73-73 tie with a layup with 1:53 to play. Ellerbe followed with a steal that was turned into her 3-pointer at the 1:24 mark and, after a Northwestern miss, Alston made two free throws for an 80-72 lead with 51 seconds remaining.
“I think concentration was really key that last five minutes of the game,” Alston said.
Ellerbe finished with 16 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for the Buckeyes (16-17), who face top-seeded and 11th-ranked Penn State (22-6) on Friday. Moore added 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Ohio State (16-17) held the Wildcats without a field goal for the first five minutes of the game and, after Northwestern tied the game at 19-19 with 8:46 to play, the Buckeyes went on a 16-4 run to take 35-23 lead with 5:06 to go.
“We had a great balance of driving the ball at the rim and either getting to the rim with shots that we could make or sucking the defense in and pitching it for open threes. But it was just our aggressive nature, I think, that made the difference in today’s game on the offensive end,” head coach Kevin McGuff said.
Maggie Lyon led Northwestern (15-15) with 25 points, Nia Coffey had 19 with 11 rebounds, Lauren Douglas had 15 points.