Ohio State's four-game stretch of stellar defense came to a screeching halt on Sunday when South Florida blitzed the Buckeyes 84-65.
|#13 Ohio State||13||19||18||15||65|
The Buckeyes only gave up 64.25 points per game in their last four outings – the best four game defensive stretch under head coach Kevin McGuff – but the Bulls eclipsed that mark in the third quarter.
Ohio State had no answer for South Florida guard Kitija Laksa. She finished with 41 points in the game – a career high – shooting a 8-for-12 from behind the arc.
The Buckeye scoring duo of Kelsey Mitchell and Stephanie Mavunga did its best to counter, combining for 47 points of their own, but they got little help from anyone else as the other six players combined for just 18 points.
Perhaps the most striking disparity in the game was South Florida's advantage on the boards. The Bulls were active on the boards from the start, holding a 17-4 rebounding advantage after one quarter and finished with a 46-26 advantage on the boards.
|26-61 (43%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||30-65 (46%)|
|6-20 (30%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||11-22 (50%)|
|7-12 (58%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||13-13 (100%)|
At the start of the game, it seemed this would be a shootout between two high-powered offenses as Ohio State and South Florida traded buckets through most of the quarter.
Then the Bulls got red hot, and the Buckeye shots stopped falling.
South Florida closed the first quarter on a 15-1 run to take a commanding 31-13 lead into the second quarter. Laksa outscored the Buckeyes by herself in the quarter, dropping 18 first-quarter points shooting 7-for-11 from the field.
The Buckeyes never fully recovered.
Ohio State was able to stop the bleeding a bit in the second, holding South Florida to just three points in the first five minutes of the second quarter while the Buckeyes began to find their offense, shooting 50 percent in the quarter.
The Bulls didn't stay cold forever, and Ohio State was only able to cut the lead to 14 points as the entered halftime trailing 46-32.
The Buckeyes were unable to eat into the lead in the third quarter, either. Ohio State got the first bucket of the half to cut the lead to 12, but that's as close as the Buckeyes got for the remainder of the game.
The Bulls coasted throughout the second half. The Buckeyes had no answer for South Florida on either end of the court. Laksa continued her hot shooting day, adding 18 second-half points to bring her game total to 41, and the Bulls topped the Buckeyes 84-65.
With the loss, Ohio State falls to 20-6 overall while South Florida improves to 20-5, bolstering its NCAA Tournament resume. The Buckeyes return to Big Ten play on Tuesday when they travel to face Illinois.