After his team played just three games in the previous 35 days, Ohio State women’s basketball coach Kevin McGuff said the Buckeyes spent a great deal of practice time focusing on defense and rebounding. Those principles proved to be paramount in a 46-41 slugfest victory over Florida on Sunday in front of 4,585 at St. John Arena.

The Buckeyes (4-3) made just 11 of 45 shots in the first three quarters (24.4 percent) and trailed the Gators 37-32, but Ohio State outscored Florida 14-4 over the final 10 minutes.

“We played hard for 40 minutes which is what we can control,” McGuff said. “I thought we competed defensively; offensively, it was a mixed bag.”

Makayla Waterman led the Buckeyes with 11 points and had seven rebounds, while Carly Santoro added six points and 10 rebounds. Ohio State held a 51-39 rebounding edge, improving to 4-0 this season when outrebounding the opposition.

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The Buckeyes trailed 41-38 with 4:58 left, but Santoro made a pair of free throws, Najah Queenland followed her own miss with a putback and Santoro scored in the paint to give Ohio State a 44-41 lead. After a timeout with 20 seconds left, Queenland led Dorka Juhasz with a perfect pass en route to an easy layup and the final margin.

“Our kids did a really good job late in the game, coming out of timeouts and executing exactly what we wanted to do,” McGuff said.

That basket by Juhasz allowed the freshman to end on a positive note after a difficult first 39 minutes. She entered the game just 1 of 16 on three-point attempts for the season, but fired up three attempts — all misses — from that distance in the first 4:02 of the game. McGuff subbed her out and Juhasz and she played only 18:53 in the game after averaging more than 27 minutes on the court over the first six games.

“I just kind of wanted to settle her down,” McGuff said. “The first two shots looked great, but the last shot she took wasn’t a great shot.”

Florida (3-7) was in control for most of the game and went on a 10-0 run in the second quarter to convert a 14-13 deficit into a 23-14 lead. The Buckeyes didn’t help their cause by missing 11 consecutive three-pointers to start the game.

“The way we started the game I think we settled for too many threes especially early in the shot clock,” McGuff said. “We weren’t getting balance in our offense and I think that shook us a little bit.”

Aaliyah Patty scored eight points and hauled down eight rebounds for Ohio State and Juhasz finished with six points and seven rebounds.

Florida made just one of 14 shots in the fourth quarter, missing on all but one of seven three-pointers.

“We really just dug in, guarded the ball well and didn’t give up any uncontested shots,” McGuff said.

jthitoff@dispatch.com