Ohio State forward Stephanie Mavunga started a day that would have made a lot of other people want to sprint back to the bedroom, get underneath the covers and wait for another sunrise. The team's equipment and luggage hadn't arrived on campus from a flight from Hartford, Connecticut, the night before because a baggage compartment door on the jet was jammed.
Ohio State forward Stephanie Mavunga started a day that would have made a lot of other people want to sprint back to the bedroom, get underneath the covers and wait for another sunrise.
The team's equipment and luggage hadn't arrived on campus from a flight from Hartford, Connecticut, the night before because a baggage compartment door on the jet was jammed.
Then Mavunga almost missed the start of stretching before practice on Tuesday at Value City Arena because the passenger window of her car got off track in 20-degree temperatures.
"It has been a long 24 hours," she said. "There has been a lot going on."
>>> Game preview: Ohio State vs. Winthrop
The worst part was the pain from an 82-63 loss to top-ranked Connecticut on Monday in which the No. 12 Buckeyes were competitive for the first half until a meltdown.
Mavunga, a 6-foot-3 redshirt junior from Brownsburg, Indiana, who transferred from North Carolina, had 13 points and 15 rebounds.
"We wanted to be at our best and we fell short," she said. "They capitalized on things we messed up on. That was a big game for us."
The Buckeyes (9-4) have what amounts to a scrimmage against Winthrop (1-10) tonight before beginning the Big Ten schedule against Minnesota next Wednesday.
Mavunga had her eyes riveted on the screen when the players watched film of the UConn game before practice. She must be a strong presence underneath the basket if Ohio State is to challenge for the conference championship.
"You trust in the coaches and in the process," she said. "It's practicing over and over again. We've had different lineup changes. We're experimenting and we're open to it. We are going to be OK."
In high school, Mavunga was Ms. Basketball in Indiana and a McDonald's All-American as a senior. In her second season at North Carolina, she was first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference after averaging 14.4 points and 9.6 rebounds in 2014-15. She blocked 180 shots in two seasons.
"I have to rebound and get second-chance opportunities, and that has been my focus," she said. "This team has phenomenal talent. We are going to put it together."
Ohio State fans haven't seen the best of Mavunga; she has not played in five games because of knee pain and has averaged only 24.5 minutes. She wore a brace on her right knee against the Huskies.
"The knees are no excuse, but something I just have to play through,'' she said.