The Buckeyes started the season off with a bang.
Ohio State has not had the best of luck in its early-season big games of late, dropping six of its last seven games against top-10 opponents during non-conference play. But the Bucks bucked that trend on Friday night as No. 5 Ohio State blasted No. 10 Stanford 85-64.
|#5 Ohio State||27||19||24||15||85|
The key for the Buckeyes was more opportunities. While Stanford was much more efficient from the field for most of the game, Ohio State got drastically more scoring chances thanks to a dominating performance on the offensive boards.
The Buckeyes finished with 28 offensive rebounds to Stanford's nine, leading to a 32-2 differential in second-chance points. Much of this was due to the efforts of Stephanie Mavunga and Linnae Harper. The pair each had a double-double in the game. Mavunga finished with 17 points and 26 rebounds while Harper put up 15 points and grabbed 11 boards.
Kelsey Mitchell had another performance we've come to expect from the scoring phenom, scoring a game-high 30 points, passing Katie Smith on Ohio State's all-time scoring list in the process.
It wasn't just Mitchell scoring, though. Four Buckeyes – Mavunga, Harper, Mitchell and Sierra Calhoun – all reached double figures on Friday night, helping the Buckeyes score 85 points.
|29-84 (35%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||24-65 (37%)|
|9-28 (32%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||5-16 (31%)|
|18-25 (72%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||11-16 (69%)|
The Buckeye win spoiled – or sweetened, depending on your perspective – the homecoming of former Ohio State head coach Tara VanDerveer, who now coaches Stanford. Friday's game was VanDerveer's first in Columbus since she coached the Buckeyes, when she guided them to a 110-37 record from 1981-85.
Ohio State came out swinging in the first quarter, forcing an uptempo game and letting it fly behind the arc, hitting 5-of-11 three pointers in the first quarter. The Buckeyes stretched the lead to eight points at one point, but Stanford kept it close with an efficiency.
The Cardinal shot 69 percent from the field in the first quarter, compared to Ohio State's 45 percent, and went 2-for-2 from the free-throw arc, compared to the Buckeyes' 5-for-11. Ohio State led 27-24, by just three points despite controlling the game much of the quarter.
Stanford took a quick lead in the second quarter, but eventually cooled down. The Cardinal went on a scoreless stretch lasting over five-and-a-half minutes, and went over seven minutes without a field goal. The Buckeyes appeared to be on their way to a nine-point halftime lead before a Stanford half-court buzzer-beater made it a 46-40 Ohio State lead at the half.
Ohio State got off to a hot start in the second half and took control of the game. The Buckeyes weren't efficient scoring, but grew their lead thanks to stifling, attacking defense and a dominating performance on the boards. Ohio State outscored Stanford by 10 in the quarter to take a 70-56 lead into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, Ohio State cruised. The Buckeyes continued to dominate the offensive boards and stretched its lead throughout the quarter. The game was effectively over with five minutes left on the clock, and Ohio State finished with an 85-64 win.
The Buckeyes don't have to wait long to try to keep the momentum going. They play No. 9 Louisville on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. in Nationwide Arena – the site of the 2018 Women's Final Four.