Ohio State is 8-0 this season when Sierra Calhoun makes three or more three-pointers.

In addition to being one of the nation’s most prolific rebounders, redshirt junior forward Stephanie Mavunga, sidelined for the foreseeable future with a right foot injury, is the second-leading scorer on an Ohio State team that has largely enforced its will on offense.

So when it comes to replacing a key piece of an offensive attack that has averaged 87.2 points, the first step is realizing there isn’t really a replacement.

“Steph’s a great player and you don’t just put somebody else in there and replace her,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “But by committee with the other talented players that we have I think we can definitely do it.”

No. 12 Ohio State (22-5, 12-1 Big Ten) was right on schedule scoring the basketball in an 88-81 win over Iowa on Sunday. The slightly-above-average offensive performance raised the Buckeyes’ scoring average to 87.2 points.

As expected, junior guard Kelsey Mitchell garnered extra attention from Iowa’s defense but still rode 13 fourth-quarter points to her seventh straight scoring output of 20 or more points.

Senior forward Shayla Cooper scored a season-high 20 points and redshirt sophomore guard Sierra Calhoun had 19, going 5 for 6 beyond the arc after an 0 for 5 effort at Wisconsin.

“She’s a great shooter and I think she’s spent a little more time in the gym here recently and she’s on point with it,” McGuff said of Calhoun on Wednesday. “Most people play us in zone, so when she’s making shots, it’s incredibly impactful for us.”

In many cases, ball movement against a zone gives Calhoun an open look in Ohio State’s first three or four possessions. Against Iowa, she missed her first three with 8:55 left in the first quarter but got one to fall 1:15 later. She didn’t miss another three.

“I think my teammates were doing a great job of finding me in the right spots, things like that,” Calhoun said. “Coaches came up with a great game plan against their defense and I think we executed well.”

Cooper, who assisted on Calhoun’s second and fourth threes of the first half, offered a slightly different explanation for Calhoun’s shooting confidence.

“We always shoot together, too, so I told her before the game started, ‘Hey, when I pass you the ball, you better shoot it, because I’m not passing it for no reason,’” she said, laughing.

The added offensive production is certainly welcome for Ohio State, but is there a fine line between hoping for added production and not wanting players to feel added pressure?

“There is, and I just think in general we have some talented kids and if they show up each game focused and ready to go and they play their game and play within the system, they’re going to do the things they do well that can really help us,” McGuff said. “So really, that’s what we focus on, whether somebody gets hurt or not, that’s what I’m trying to emphasize on a daily basis.”

In games like Sunday’s, when Calhoun is effective from three, the added scoring option has meant trouble for opposing defenses. Ohio State is 8-0 this season when Calhoun makes three or more three-pointers.

Moore on Mitchell

Maya Moore played in four Final Fours, was a four-time All-American at UConn and is one of just 12 players in Division I history to reach 3,000 career points.

She knows her stuff when it comes to discussing scoring and the game’s most prolific offensive players. In Columbus on Wednesday for the Greater Columbus Sports Commission’s “The Women’s Sports Report,” Moore called Mitchell a “very talented player.”

“I’ve gotten to see her play a handful of times and want to watch her some more. I just remember being really impressed when I first saw her play,” Moore said. “She’s on the track to being as good as she wants to be. Love seeing that in different places, different schools that continue the competitiveness. I just hope she continues to develop and become as dominant as she can, just for the game, and I love to see players like her continue to embrace her role and, you know, elevate her team.”


ESPN’s latest Bracketology update has the Buckeyes traveling to Los Angeles to open the NCAA Tournament as a No. 5 seed.

The Buckeyes’ best chance at improving their stock heading into the tournament will come Monday night at Value City Arena against No. 2 Maryland. The Terrapins will arrive in Columbus with a 14-0 Big Ten record after dismantling Wisconsin on Wednesday night.

Before turning to Maryland, Ohio State will look for its ninth straight tonight at Nebraska (5-19, 1-11).