Sunday’s game against Washington ended as another victory for the Ohio State women’s basketball team, but when coach Kevin McGuff caught a glimpse of the final stat packet while sitting at his postgame news conference, he grimaced.
Ohio State held off the youthful Huskies — who start three freshmen and a sophomore — 85-76 at Value City Arena, but McGuff expressed frustration at his team’s overall performance.
“It’s just overall that our effort, our attention to detail, our focus, was really bad,” McGuff said. “I thought Washington played harder than we did for closer to 40 minutes. The rebounding was just one aspect where it kind of came out. Our defense wasn’t good, our transition defense wasn’t good. It was an overall disappointing performance.”
Washington, despite not having a player taller than 6 feet 1, outrebounded the Buckeyes 46-40, including 28-17 in the first half, which ended with OSU ahead 42-36.
“We are just getting outhustled sometimes, and that’s heart, with each and every one of us,” said forward Stephanie Mavunga, who led Ohio State with 12 rebounds. “I think we are going to be holding ourselves accountable and our teammates accountable, starting this week in practice. We’ve already fessed up and we’ve already realized the problem, and that’s part of it.”
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The Huskies hung around in the fourth quarter, and they cut into a 70-60 OSU lead with a 7-0 run, capped by Khayla Rooks’ three-pointer from the corner with 6:51 to play.
The Buckeyes’ defense stood its ground, however, and Mavunga came up with eight points on layups — helped by assists from Linnae Harper and Alexa Hart — to extend the lead back to double digits, 79-69 with 4:10 left.
A three-pointer by Washington’s Jenna Moser with 2:13 to go briefly cut the Huskies’ deficit to seven, but Hart scored on a put-back attempt and Asia Doss buried a teardrop floater as the shot clock expired with 53 seconds left to put the game out of reach.
The Buckeyes abandoned their four-guard lineup and inserted the 6-3 Hart in crunch time to play alongside Mavunga in the post — instead of the 6-foot Sierra Calhoun — for the size advantage.
“We did a terrible job on the boards, and it was mostly that our effort was really poor,” McGuff said. “But we did want to go a little bigger to be a bit more effective on the glass (with Hart).”
Kelsey Mitchell finished with a team-high 27 points on 8-of-17 shooting, and Mavunga collected 17 points, going 8 of 11 from the field. Along with her 12 boards, it was Mavunga’s fourth double-double of the season.
The Buckeyes rattled off a 14-2 run to start the second quarter after the first ended with the score knotted at 21, but the Huskies responded immediately with a 10-0 run to cut the lead to two. Doss drilled a three-pointer with 11 seconds remaining in the half to provide the Buckeyes the six-point lead after 20 minutes.