Richardson scores 28 as Duke rallies from 16-point deficit to beat Ohio State 75-63 in March Madness

Duke guard Reigan Richardson (24) shoots against Ohio State forward Rebeka Mikulasikova (23) during the first half of a second-round college basketball game in the women's NCAA Tournament, Sunday, March 24, 2024, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

Duke guard Reigan Richardson (24) shoots against Ohio State forward Rebeka Mikulasikova (23) during the first half of a second-round college basketball game in the women’s NCAA Tournament, Sunday, March 24, 2024, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Reigan Richardson scored 28 points and added seven rebounds as No. 7 seed Duke rallied from a 16-point first-half deficit to beat No. 2 seed Ohio State 75-63 on Sunday and earn a spot in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2018.

Richardson hit a 3-pointer from the wing to put Duke up 59-57 with 5:21 left. That sparked a 13-2 run by the Blue Devils that began to put the game out of reach.

Ashlon Jackson scored 13 points and Taina Mair added 11 for the Blue Devils (22-11), who move on to Portland, Oregon to play next weekend against the winner of Syracuse and UConn.

“We’re super proud, just how the team played today,” said Richardson, who averaged 11.9 points per game during the season. “I think we were down by 16, and we didn’t let it faze us. We stayed with each other and we were able to climb back.”

Duke’s upset win was only the second time in the tournament that a lower seeded team had won. The better seeds were 31-1 in the opening round.

Cotie McMahon paced the Buckeyes (26-6) with 27 points. Most of those were in the paint. Ohio State attempted just nine 3-pointers in the game and didn’t make one until there were 12.2 seconds left in the game.

Celeste Taylor, who transferred to Ohio State from Duke before the season, scored just six points before fouling out with 6:38 left in the game.

“They played better,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “They deserved to win. We didn’t play well today.”

Ohio State’s pressing defense caused problems for Duke early as the Buckeyes built a 16-point lead. But the Blue Devils came roaring back. A 12-2 run cut the Buckeyes lead to 36-32 at halftime.

“These guys never flinched,” Duke coach Kara Lawson said. “In the huddles, they were locked in. They kept their belief, even though it felt like we were getting run out of the gym at the beginning of the game. Possession by possession we worked our way back.”

In the first round on Friday, Ohio State routed No. 15 seed Maine 80-57. Duke rallied in the second half to beat No. 10 seed Richmond.

WHAT HAPPENED?

McGuff said the Buckeyes just kind of fell apart.

“We were really generating good shots early in the game in the first quarter and we were rebounding the ball with energy and discipline,” he said. “Then as the game wore on, we really got out of sync on offense, and Duke was playing really good defense, so they had a hand in that. Then we really broke down with our rebounding.”

MAKING ADJUSTMENTS

Lawson said there was a “shock factor” when her team first came out against Ohio State’s aggressive press.

“It rattled us to start,” she said. “Once we got our bearings, once we got our rhythm, once we had some success finding scoring, I thought we just played with great poise and confidence and got to the spots we needed to get to. I was just hoping that (Ohio State) barrage in the beginning wasn’t going to put us too far down where we wouldn’t be able to come back.”

BYE BYE BUCKEYES

The season ended in disappointment for Ohio State on its own court after advancing to the regional final last season. It was the last game in Value City Arena for fifth-year player Sheldon, who had 13 points. She averaged 18 all season.

“It still hasn’t hit me,” Sheldon said. “It’s just disappointing because I feel like we have a lot of regret, didn’t play our best game. Duke played a great game, but I think it hurts a little more that we didn’t go out there and play our best game today.”

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AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-womens-bracket/ and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness

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