BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — In many ways, Ohio State looked different Saturday.
The 10th-ranked Buckeyes got just 15 points from senior guard Kelsey Mitchell, the two-time Big Ten player of the year, and didn’t come close to their pregame scoring average of 89.1 points. Different, it turned out, wasn’t necessarily bad and the result was the same as it has been since the start of December: a win.
Ohio State extended its win streak to nine with a 77-62 win over Indiana at Assembly Hall, and did so with defense and with Linnae Harper and Stephanie Mavunga providing the bulk of the scoring.
Mavunga had 20 points and 18 rebounds and Harper 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
The Buckeyes got a fight from Indiana as expected, coach Kevin McGuff said, but proved they had multiple options on offense with the Hoosiers keying in on Mitchell.
“We scored a lot more around the basket and at the free-throw line because we got the ball inside,” he said. “Steph did a great job, Linnae did a great job and I think that’s when we’re at our best, when we get a little balance in our offense.”
Indiana (8-10, 1-5 Big Ten) chipped away at Ohio State’s advantage midway through the third quarter, making four of five as the Buckeyes (16-2, 5-0) waded through a 1-of-9 stretch.
Tyra Buss made a three with 1:31 left in the third quarter to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 56-49. McGuff called a timeout as the Indiana crowd grew to its loudest.
“He was just very frustrated and you could see the frustration in him,” Mavunga said of McGuff. “He really believes in us and he knows that we can do so much better than that.”
Twenty-nine seconds later, Harper produced the message’s intended effect. She dropped the crowd’s decibel level with a corner three followed by a jumper to again bring the margin to double digits, where it remained for the final 10:23.
“I think at that point we needed those baskets,” Harper said. “It was critical in the game, and also it would give us the momentum back so that we could get back to what we were trying to do.”
Indiana trailed 43-27 at half and would have been even further in a hole without the efforts of freshman guard Jaelynn Penn, who scored 14 of Indiana’s 18 second-quarter points. She had 20 points to lead the Hoosiers. Amanda Cahill had 15.
Mitchell didn’t take her first shot — a miss — until more than three minutes had passed in the second quarter. Her second shot fell to make her just the 13th Division I player to reach 3,000 points.
The senior found her shooting stroke as the break neared, making three threes in the final 2:31 to lead the Buckeyes with 11 first-half points and pass Maine’s Cindy Blodgett for 12th on the Division I career scoring list.
Ohio State returns to Value City Arena on Tuesday against No. 23 Michigan. The Buckeyes traveled with just nine Saturday, as redshirt junior Chelsea Mitchell will be away from the team to focus on academics and freshman Savitha Jayaraman sat out because of the flu.