KENT — For four years, Kierstan Bell starred at Canton McKinley High School, where she scored 2,883 points in her illustrious career with the Bulldogs.
On Thursday night, she got her chance to play in front of her friends, family and former teammates when the Buckeyes traveled 40 minutes north of Canton to take on Kent State.
It didn't start how Bell wanted it to.
When her first three-pointer went up two minutes into the game, the gathered mass of friends, family and former teammates rose up in anticipation, letting out various sounds of disappointment when it clanged off the right side of the rim.
One turnover and two quick fouls later, Bell found herself on the bench with six minutes left, where she remained for the rest of the half.
By the time Bell scored a minute into the third quarter, the game had all but been decided, thanks in large part to the Buckeyes' depth.
With Dorka Juhasz out with a knee injury and Bell on the bench for almost the entire first half, Ohio State's bench stepped up, outscoring Kent State's reserves 33-3 in the Buckeyes' 75-65 win.
“That's one of the luxuries of this team is that we have some depth and can play a lot of people,” coach Kevin McGuff said. “It was a really good performance."
Ohio State (3-1) continued its season-long theme of balanced scoring, as four players finished in double figures, led by Rebeka Mikulasikova and Braxtin Miller with 14 points each.
“I wanted to get (Rebeka) in there early, especially with Dorka out," McGuff said. "She had some great minutes. I think you can see what her talent level is.”
Through three games, Mikulasikova averaged 3.3 points on 8.3 minutes per game. Her 14 points against Kent State (3-2) came on 7-for-7 shooting in nearly 20 minutes.
“I knew Dorka was out, so I knew I was going to take more responsibility and prove that I can play,” she said. “I think this game was much better than the other ones. I feel like I'm getting better in every practice and learning how to play in the system.
Despite winning by 10, the Buckeyes were outscored 25-12 in the fourth quarter, a mental lapse that McGuff attributed to his team's youth.
“I thought we played well for three quarters, and then in the fourth quarter we played really bad,” McGuff said. “I think that's just a sign of an immature team; we got out of our process and system and they made us pay for it.”
Four days after shooting 36% against Mid-American Conference favorite Ohio University, the Buckeyes shored things up offensively, shooting 54% for the game in addition to finishing with a season-high 22 assists.
“We're at our best when we're moving the ball,” McGuff said. “I really liked the way we moved the ball; that's kind of the goal we have.”