Wednesday was a good day in Columbus – not only did the Buckeye football team bring in a historic recruiting class, the women's hoops team took care of business on the hardwood, trouncing Penn State 87-72 behind Sierra Calhoun and Kelsey Mitchell's offensive explosions.
The Buckeyes began the game with perhaps their best first quarter performance of the season. Ohio State shot 67 percent from both the field and three-point territory with six different players combining for 26 points.
"I thought our kids had great energy from the start and that allowed us to set the tone," Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said after the game. "When we move the ball and get good shots we usually spread the ball around a little more and scoring becomes more balanced."
It wasn't just offense, the team's defense was especially pesky to start the game, forcing eight first-quarter turnovers.
|OHIO STATE||STAT||Penn State|
|30-62 (48%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||26-69 (38%)|
|11-23 (48%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||9-27 (33%)|
|16-19 (84%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||11-12 (92%)|
"We played a little more zone," McGuff explained. "I wanted to give Penn State a different look than what they probably thought we were going to do and I thought we were effective. We were really active and energetic in our zone in the first half."
Calhoun had perhaps her best game as a Buckeye, Wednesday night. The sophomore guard hit a season-high five three-pointers on six attempts (83 percent), finishing with 17 points – five shy of her season-high of 22.
"I felt good today," Calhoun said. "I just felt like my teammates were finding me."
"Sierra was outstanding," McGuff said. "She obviously shot the ball extremely well for us, and with how much zone we see that's extremely important."
Not to be outdone, her backcourt counterpart was also on fire offensively, particularly in the second half. After a quiet first half by her standards, where she scored just nine points, Mitchell exploded after intermission, scoring 14 points in the third quarter alone.
It wasn't just scoring, though. Mitchell was dishing out dimes to open teammates and finished the game with a team-high five assists.
"Kelsey was really efficient tonight. She obviously scored some points but she had I think five assists," McGuff said. "She draws a lot of attention, so when she makes the extra pass it's really impactful for us."
Lost in the final score, though, was the huge night by Teniya Page. The sophomore guard put up a game-high 32 points, continuing a trend of huge scoring performances by opposing guards.
Ohio State was hot from the start. Six Buckeyes combined to score 26 points in the quarter, shooting 67 percent from the field and behind the arc. The team also played pesky defense, forcing eight first-quarter turnovers.
The Buckeyes slowed down a bit in the second, but still maintained control throughout. It turned out to be one of Ohio State's most balanced offensive halves of the season – seven Buckeyes scored at least four points and Calhoun led all scorers with 11. Ohio State rode the performance to a 52-29 halftime lead.
Ohio State continued to score in bunches in the third quarter, led by Mitchell's 14 points, but Penn State did as well and the Buckeyes were unable to extend their lead. Ohio State entered the final quarter leading 68-53.
The Nittany Lions didn't go away. Penn State went on a bit of a run midway through the quarter, at one point cutting the lead to 14. The Buckeyes held strong, however, never letting the score get closer than that and ultimately won 87-72.
With the win, Ohio State improves to 20-5 on the season and 10-1 in the Big Ten. Next up for the Buckeyes is a road trip to Madison, Wisconsin to take on the last-place Badgers on Saturday at 2 p.m.