A star player's absence and the persistence of a young Iowa team put Ohio State in an unfamiliar spot with just under four minutes remaining in its Sunday home game.

The Buckeyes were without their usual hefty fourth-quarter lead.

Stephanie Mavunga, the nation’s eighth-leading rebounder and a critical piece of the Ohio State offense, was out of her normal domain — the paint — and seated on the bench in a walking boot after suffering a right foot injury in Thursday’s practice.

Junior guard Kelsey Mitchell, Division I basketball’s fifth-leading scorer, had just seven points entering the fourth quarter and 12 with less than five minutes to play.

But in the last four minutes of an 88-81 victory, Ohio State’s eighth straight, the No. 13 Buckeyes (22-5, 12-1 Big Ten) once again looked like the team that hasn’t lost at home since Dec. 1.

After trailing 55-44 midway through the third quarter, Iowa (15-10, 6-6) led 70-69 with 5:16 remaining and worked a 72-72 tie on a pair of Kathleen Doyle free throws with 3:56 to play.

Ohio State then put together its best three minutes. Kiara Lewis made back-to-back layups to give the Buckeyes a four-point lead, and Mitchell followed with back-to-back jumpers to cement an 8-0 run.

Then two Linnae Harper steals set up layups by Mitchell and Shayla Cooper, and Ohio State had an 84-74 lead less than four minutes after the 72-72 deadlock.

“For us to have to execute offensively in a tight situation I think is really good for us,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “For us to have to get stops and big rebounds down the stretch is also something we need to be doing at this time of year.”

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder noted the challenge of stopping talented Big Ten scorers like Mitchell for four full quarters. Such scorers keep believing, Bluder said, and trust themselves enough to know their next shot has a chance to fall.

“You just can’t give 'em an inch,” Bluder said.

Mitchell took nothing short of a mile, scoring 13 fourth-quarter points to finish with 20.

“She usually shows up on time, that’s for sure,” McGuff said. “For the first three quarters she probably wasn’t her normal self, but she was awfully good down the stretch and obviously made a huge impact on us winning the game.”

Cooper also scored 20, while adding eight rebounds and five assists. Redshirt sophomore guard Sierra Calhoun chipped in with 19, and freshman guard Kiara Lewis had 11. Ally Disterhoft led the Hawkeyes with 22.

“Just with (Mavunga) being out, I just knew I had to step it up a little bit more,” Cooper said. “She’s a great player and she’s huge for our team, so to not have her is sad in a sense, but we’re hoping she has a speedy recovery and (we) pick it up where she left off.”