Ohio State started to overwhelm Quinnipiac on the boards, senior guard Kelsey Mitchell put together a three-minute hot streak from three-point range, and a comfortable lead exploded into a rout.
The No. 9 Buckeyes defeated Quinnipiac 95-63 Friday night in front of 3,793 at Value City Arena, coasting late behind a runaway fourth quarter in which Ohio State outscored Quinnipiac 30-10.
Three threes from Mitchell, a pair of free throws by Stephanie Mavunga and a layup by Makayla Waterman added up to a 13-0 run that expanded the Buckeyes’ lead from 75-58 to 88-58 in a span of 2:36. Ohio State found its form on defense, holding Quinnipiac, a Sweet 16 team last season, to just 2-of-16 shooting in the fourth quarter.
“It started off pretty rocky for us in the third quarter (OSU was outscored 21-19 in the period). Sweet 16 team, so you can’t take them lightly,” said Mitchell, who led the Buckeyes with 32 points. “I think we picked it up after a while, though. We got some momentum going defensively and turned it into offense.”
Stringing together a few rebounds carried the Buckeyes (3-1) a long way.
“You all know how we are,” Mitchell said.
A team that has a reputation for success in offensive transition was cleaner on the boards late in the second half, and a plus-two rebounding margin at the half grew to plus-15 by game’s end. A steadier performance on the glass allowed Ohio State to get out on the run, and the sudden shift in pace buried the Bobcats (0-3).
It was a needed shift in a game in which the Buckeyes played hard, coach Kevin McGuff said, but weren’t mentally sharp for the duration.
“I don’t think it was physical effort on the boards, but mentally we didn’t call the block-outs, we didn’t go to the offensive boards all the time, and that’s mental stuff,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a great win, I just want our players to understand that mentally we’ve got to be locked in for closer to 40 minutes.”
Redshirt senior guard Linnae Harper provided another glimpse of her versatility, scoring 23 points and adding 10 rebounds for her third double-double this season. Mavunga added 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Sierra Calhoun had 11 points. Jen Fay and Aryn McClure led the Bobcats with 15 points each.
Mitchell went 6 for 9 from beyond the arc. Her nine attempts brought her to 1,005 three-point attempts for her career, just 14 shy of tying Penn State’s Kelly Mazzante for the Big Ten record.
“Six for 9, that’s good,” Mitchell said, informed of her stat line after the game. “I just got in one of those flows, but I didn’t know I was 6 for 9.”
Redshirt junior forward Chelsea Mitchell, who has not been available for the Buckeyes’ first four games because of a personal matter, is “close” to returning, McGuff said, perhaps as soon as Sunday.
The Buckeyes host Washington in their third game of the week Sunday at 11 a.m. at Value City Arena.