EVANSTON, Illinois — No. 5 Ohio State has three days to figure out what happened at Northwestern before it faces Purdue.
Maggie Lyon scored 24 points, Nia Coffey added 23 and Northwestern upset the Buckeyes 86-82 on Thursday night.
"We've got to go in with the mindset of we're going to lay down or we're going to get with the program," Buckeyes guard Kelsey Mitchell said after her 28-point performance. "Coach said as soon as he walked into the locker room, 'We've got a lot to take care of, but it's only going to happen if everybody buys in.' "
Northwestern (13-4, 2-3 Big Ten) led all the way in stopping Ohio State's eight-game winning streak. The Buckeyes' previous losses had been to Connecticut, South Carolina and Notre Dame, the top three teams in the AP poll. Northwestern had dropped out of the Top 25 after back-to-back losses to Purdue and Michigan State.
Beating Ohio State (12-4, 4-1) may impress the voters. It impressed Buckeyes coach Kevin McGruff.
"They played a lot harder than we did in the first half," McGuff said. "We weren't very aggressive and didn't execute. Northwestern showed up as a team that needed to get a win, and we showed as a team that would like to get a win."
Shayla Cooper added 23 points for the Buckeyes, and Ameryst Alston and Alexa Hart 12 each.
"Collectively, focus and 'want to' just wasn't there," Alston said. "They were getting a lot of 50-50 balls. They did a really good job of getting in the passing lanes."
Northwestern's defense created 18 turnovers, the Wildcats turning them into 23 points.
Northwestern led 48-30 at the half, with Lyon hitting four of her five 3-point attempts. That helped negate Ohio State's full-court press, and allowed the Wildcats to work the ball inside, where Coffey scored 17 first-half points.
Ohio State closed the gap to five points in the final quarter, with Mitchell scoring 12 points. Her three-point play cut it to 82-77 with 1:21 to play, but Northwestern hit four of six free throws in the final minute.
"We were focusing on reversing the ball," Lyon said of the offense. "That moved the defense, and more openings came."
Coffey left the game with a left ankle injury with 7:49 to go. The Buckeyes were unable to take advantage.
Christen Inman added 17 points, and freshman Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah had 14 points and 14 rebounds for Northwestern. They forced 16 turnovers and scored 23 points off the Buckeyes' miscues in leading all the way.
"They were packed in the paint and in the passing lanes," Mitchell said of Northwestern. "A lot of little stuff mattered. When you get down that much against a great team like that, it's hard. You take what you get."
An earlier Buckeyes' rally, punctuated by a 3-pointer by Alston, was answered by three straight baskets set up by Ohio State turnovers. Inman, Lyon and Kunaiyi-Akpanah scored in quick succession to make it 76-64 with 5:34 left.
Lyons hit a 3-pointer in the middle of a 15-2 run that pushed Northwestern's lead to 42-20 with 3:39 left in the first half.
Ohio State: Prior to Thursday night, the Buckeyes' only losses were to the top three teams in the AP poll: No. 1 UConn, No. 2 South Carolina and No. 3 Notre Dame.
Northwestern: Freshman Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah had been solid on the boards in her first 13 games, but hadn't scored more than four points in any contest her 14-point outburst.
Ohio State hosts Purdue on Sunday.
Northwestern visits No. 8 Maryland on Sunday.