Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 68-55 Saturday at the Kohl Center for its third straight win but faced a scary injury to redshirt junior forward Makayla Waterman in the process.
As Waterman fell to the floor with 2:08 left in the third quarter, her neck appeared to bend after making contact with a Wisconsin player. Waterman lay on her stomach for minutes while she was evaluated by Ohio State medical staff. The game’s broadcast showed Waterman moving her hands and fingers.
Coach Kevin McGuff told the Big Ten Network that Waterman had feeling in all of her extremities and had been transported to a hospital for further evaluation.
The game was delayed for approximately 15 minutes as Waterman was placed on a stretcher and later into an ambulance to have her neck evaluated further. Several Ohio State players, in tears, walked over to comfort Waterman before she was transported.
An exact update on Waterman’s status was not immediately available.
The Badgers made four unanswered baskets to take a 36-35 lead with 6:59 left in the third quarter before No. 18 Ohio State (19-5, 8-3 Big Ten) responded to take the lead on a Mitchell layup less than two minutes later. The Buckeyes led by six or more points for all but 12 seconds in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
Stephanie Mavunga led Ohio State with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Kelsey Mitchell had 16 points and Linnae Harper 15. Marsha Howard and Cayla McMorris had 20 and 15 for the Badgers, respectively.
Wisconsin (9-16, 2-10) closed the first half on a 9-2 run and still the Buckeyes carried a 35-28 lead into the break.
Facing a zone defense as they often have in Big Ten play this season, the Buckeyes often made the correct high-low pass, finding Mavunga for high-percentage shots.
The senior made a few of those and also did her part to aid Ohio State in transition, logging three steals in her 14-point first half.
A first-half lead didn’t require a herculean effort from Mitchell, who made a pair of threes in six first-half field goal attempts for six points. Her first make was important, however, as a mark of her consistency during her Ohio State career.
A straightaway three-pointer with 3:29 left in the first quarter gave her a three in 81 consecutive games, setting an NCAA record. She broke both the NCAA Division I and NCAA all-division record for career three-point field goals earlier this season.
The make came toward the end of a 16-0 Ohio State run that rocketed the Buckeyes from a 6-6 deadlock to a 22-6 advantage in 5:17. It marked the second straight game in which Ohio State raced to a first-quarter lead of 15 or more points.
Ohio State returns to Value City Arena on Thursday to host Rutgers.