Linnae Harper is listed at 5 feet 8, but she plays much bigger.
And it makes Ohio State much better.
The senior guard, who has been guarding forwards in the Buckeyes’ four-guard lineup, pulled down 18 rebounds to go with her 18 points — her second double-double of the season — in No. 9 Ohio State’s 99-56 win over Idaho on Wednesday night at Value City Arena.
“I’m just trying to be whatever the team needs me to be,” Harper said. “I think it’s a very versatile (role), but I think it requires a very mental, disciplined focus for me to switch back and forth" between guard and forward.
Harper’s multidimensional capabilities are the crux of the Buckeyes’ versatility. She’s strong and physical enough to guard forwards, but also nimble enough to shoot from outside and push the ball in transition.
“That allows us to play small,” McGuff said. “It makes us more versatile, because not only can she rebound, but she can also defend bigger people.”
Ohio State’s defense was spotty early, with lapses leading to open three-point attempts for the Vandals. Idaho failed to make Ohio State pay, however, clanking open shots, and the Buckeyes rattled off an 18-4 run over the last 8:12 of the opening quarter after locking in on defense.
By halftime, they led 49-24 and had limited the Vandals to 0.57 points per possession after Idaho netted 1.4 points per possession in the game’s first 1:48.
Idaho, which tied a school record with 18 made three-pointers in a season-opening win over Colorado State, made only six Wednesday on 32 attempts, an 18.8 percent clip.
McGuff said Ohio State’s pressing defense gave Idaho fits and wore it down.
“They kind of play fast, but at the same time, if they were going to get those shots, they were going to have to hurry and rush and all that,” McGuff said.
Ohio State dominated on the glass, outrebounding the Vandals 59-37.
Stephanie Mavunga also recorded her second double-double of the season, combining 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting with 14 rebounds.
Kelsey Mitchell warmed up in the second half, going 5 of 6 from the field, including 3 of 3 from three-point range, in a 13-point effort after recording only three points on 1-of-6 shooting in the first half.
Sierra Calhoun added 15 points and Jensen Caretti came off the bench to score 14, a career-high for the sophomore.
With Ohio State at nine scholarship players, the Buckeyes are counting on Caretti to contribute.
“Tonight was really valuable for her,” McGuff said of Caretti. “Hopefully she’ll continue to gain confidence" as the Buckeyes look to expand their rotation.
The Buckeyes welcome Quinnipiac on Friday. The Bobcats advanced to the Sweet 16 in last season’s NCAA Tournament as a No. 12 seed.