The No. 16 Ohio State women’s basketball has struggled with consistency throughout a full game at several points this season. Thursday night was no different.
However, OSU ultimately pulled away with another close Big Ten win, topping Wisconsin 70-61. Junior guard Kelsey Mitchell led all scorers with 24 points on 8-of-17 shooting. Redshirt junior forward Stephanie Mavunga added eight points and 10 rebounds.
The Buckeyes (16-5, 6-1) found their rhythm in the first quarter. On the first two possessions of the game, freshman guard Kiara Lewis had five points and a steal. OSU hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter while its defense held Wisconsin (5-14, 0-6) to a feeble 16.7 percent from the field.
It looked like OSU would cruise to a blowout win. Then the second quarter happened.
Wisconsin put up 20 points on the Buckeyes in the second quarter, hitting on 57.1 percent of their its shots. On the other side, OSU was held to 29.4 percent from the field in the second. OSU is the second-best free-throw shooting team in the country, but shot only 33 percent from the charity stripe at the half. Mitchell led the team in points at the half with 14. Mavunga put 4 points on the board while racking up 8 rebounds before the half. OSU led by just one.
In the third quarter, the offense reappeared.
OSU came out with intensity and shot 58 percent as a team in the quarter. The Buckeyes held Wisconsin to the same shooting percentage they had in the first with exactly 16.7 percent. OSU picked up their defense forcing nine turnovers. The Buckeyes also got to the line more than any time in the first half and shot 77.8 percent from the line. Multiple runs in the third allowed OSU to pull away from Wisconsin.
But the Buckeyes, again, went cold in the next quarter, allowing the Badgers to go on a 12-0 run and cut the lead to six with a minute remaining.
After the game OSU coach Kevin McGuff mentioned that after the third quarter, the Buckeyes lost their focus, again.
“We got caught up in the lead,” he said. “Up 20 or down 20, we have to focus on us.”
McGuff also mentioned that he has not etched in an everyday lineup yet.
Mitchell said that to be considered among the elite teams in the country, OSU can’t continue to give up big leads, rather continue to pile on.
“What separates us from the greats, like UConn and South Carolina is that when that score goes up, it continues to go up,” she said.
OSU will continue Big Ten play facing Illinois at the Schottenstein Center at 5 p.m. on Jan 22.