Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff has remained steadfast in his principles this season, even when his team struggled with a five-game losing streak and an 0-3 start in Big Ten play.

He believes solid team defense and effort will ultimately determine the success of the Buckeyes, and Monday night OSU performed the plan to near perfection in a 65-55 win over 17th-ranked Michigan State in front of a crowd of 4,695 at Value City Arena.

The Spartans entered the game shooting better than 40 percent on three-pointers while handing out 21.3 assists per game, good for third in the nation. Michigan State made just 4 of 14 threes (28.6 percent) and mustered a mere nine assists while committing 17 turnovers against the Buckeyes.

“I thought the staff did a really job of putting together a game plan, and our kids executed it well,” McGuff said.

Carly Santoro scored a season-high 25 points and eclipsed 1,000 points for her career. A graduate transfer from Bowling Green, she scored 10 of her points in the fourth quarter, when she made seven of eight free-throw attempts.

In recent games, Ohio State (6-8, 2-3) started slowly and was forced to dig out of an early hole. That wasn’t the case against the Spartans (12-4, 2-3). The Buckeyes jumped out to a 12-5 lead with 3:53 left in the opening quarter after Makayla Waterman batted a pass away that ended up in the hands of Carmen Grande. Grande found Santoro streaking toward the basket for a layup.

The Buckeyes trailed 15-14 after one quarter, but took the lead for good when Dorka Juhasz drained a three-pointer in the opening minute of the second.

The biggest concern early was the manner in which Michigan State was controlling the glass, especially on the offensive end. The Spartans had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, but only seven in the second — and three of those happened during one possession in the final minute.

Ohio State’s Aaliyah Patty played a big role off the bench in keeping Michigan State in check. She finished with nine points and four rebounds, but her presence was bigger than her stat line. The Buckeyes led 29-27 at the intermission.

“We talked a lot at halftime about the rebounding, we were giving up a lot of second-chance points,” McGuff said. “(Patty) did a great job, was really physical in there, and she got some tough rebounds.”

Ohio State led 45-33 heading into the fourth quarter, and the biggest lead for the Buckeyes came with 8:10 remaining after a three-pointer by Santoro made it 50-35. The Spartans trimmed the deficit down to six in the final minute, but Ohio State made eight free throws to pull away.

Juhasz and Janai Crooms also hit double figures, scoring 10 points each. Waterman grabbed 10 rebounds and Grande handed out eight assists.

 

jthitoff@dispatch.com