Ohio State overcame an early 13-point deficit to grab a 27-26 lead late in the second quarter against 16th-ranked Iowa on Sunday. It would prove to be the apex for the Buckeyes.
A scoring drought of more than six minutes ensued for Ohio State and Iowa rolled to a 78-52 win in a Big Ten women's basketball game in front of 5,344 at Value City Arena.
Megan Gustafson, the nation’s leading scorer, poured in 29 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for the Hawkeyes. The double-double was the 77th of the senior's career, tying former Buckeye Jantel Lavender for the most in conference history.
In the first half, Ohio State (10-12, 6-7) limited Gustafson to a relatively quiet 10 points and nine rebounds. Iowa’s lead was just 31-27 at the intermission.
“We wanted to play man, zone, box and one,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “I thought in the second quarter the different looks took them out of their rhythm and put them on their heels a little bit.”
The second half was a different story. Gustafson scored 15 points, making 7 of 9 shots in the third quarter alone.
“In the first half, there were a few shots I missed that I should have made,” Gustafson said. “In the second half, I knew I needed to take over, and it opened things up for the rest of the team to make shots.”
Iowa (20-5, 11-3) outscored the Buckeyes 27-10 in the third, and Ohio State was never able to get closer than 16 points after that. The Hawkeyes made 12 of 15 shots in the third quarter and 18 of 26 (69 percent) in the second half.
Ohio State’s Carly Santoro and Carmen Grande, who combined were averaging more than 19 points per game, were held scoreless. Grande, tied for the conference lead in assists coming in, had zero in the game. Makayla Waterman, coming off a career-high 19 points against Penn State, didn’t score until the fourth quarter and fouled out with five points.
Freshman Dorka Juhasz led the Buckeyes with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Janai Crooms, also a freshman, had 10 points and a season-high seven assists — with five of them coming in the second quarter.
“When we were at our best today, (Crooms) was playing aggressively,” McGuff said. “She can make plays that nobody else on our team can make, and especially in the second quarter she was the key.”
Early in the game, Iowa’s 2-3 zone gave Ohio State problems. The Buckeyes missed their first five shots from the field and didn’t score until a steal and layup by Crooms with 5:41 left in the opening quarter. Iowa led 17-4 at the 2:57 mark and 19-9 after one before the Buckeyes' 18-7 spurt erased the deficit.