Sophomore Kelsey Mitchell endured another slow start for the Ohio State women's basketball team on Thursday night at Value City Arena. Against Indiana, the Buckeyes' all-america candidate couldn't get much to drop in the game's first twenty minutes. But Mitchell blew up the Hoosiers in the second half, finishing out with a game-high 23 points in a 97-70 win.
The victory improved Ohio State's record to 11-3 on the season, and a perfect 3-0 to begin Big Ten play. Indiana suffered its second loss in conference, and fell to 9-6 overall.
Ohio State got the Big Ten season off to a rousing start, defeating nationally-ranked Michigan State and Maryland teams, and ascending to the No. 5 ranking in the country.
As was the case in those two games, though, the Buckeyes got off to a rocky start against the Hoosiers on Thursday night. The team missed its first five shots, and nine of its first ten. Mitchell and backcourt mate Ameryst Alston combined to score just six first quarter points on 3-for-11 shooting.
Indiana got 14 combined points from sophomore guards Tyra Buss and Jess Walter, each of whom knocked down a pair of three-point shots, and moved out to an 18-10 lead.
Ohio State's deficit would have been worse if not for junior forward Shayla Cooper's eight points and four rebounds off the bench in the opening frame. Cooper helped spark an 8-0 run to end the quarter with the Buckeyes and Hoosiers even.
The second quarter was a back and forth affair, with neither team pulling away. Ohio State ended the first half with a 40-35 lead despite not making a single three-point field goal attempt. The Buckeyes did rip down 11 offensive rebounds in the first twenty minutes, and forced 12 turnovers.
Sophomore Amanda Cahill gave Indiana nine points in the quarter, and had 12 overall, and grabbed a half-high six rebounds at the half. Buss, who averages better than 19 a game, led the Hoosiers with 12 points to go along with four assists. Cooper continued to impact the game, leading all scorers with 14 points at the intermission. She would go on to put up 23 points and eight rebounds by game's end.
Mitchell finished the half with eight points, but shot just 2-for-10 from the floor, while Alston was 2-for-8 for a mere four points. As was the case against the Spartans and Terrapins, though, Ohio State did get to the foul line, making 8-of-9 as a team, including a perfect 4-of-4 from Mitchell.
The Buckeyes' offense finally erupted in the third quarter, scoring 27 points and taking a 67-55 lead. Mitchell made her first three-pointer of the game right out of the gate and didn't slow down. The preseason Big Ten player of the year scored 15 points in the quarter.
The game was blown wide open after that, as Alston and sophomore Alexa Hart got going, combining for 18 points. Hart ended the night with a double-double, scoring 18 and grabbing 13 rebounds. Despite 6-for-18 shooting, Alston added 14 points of her own. The Buckeyes outscored the Hoosiers 57-35 after halftime.
Buss led Indiana with 19 points and seven assists, while Cahill turned in a double-double of her own, scoring 17 points and hauling in 10 boards.
Up next for Ohio State is a visit from Rutgers on Sunday afternoon. The game tips off of at 2 p.m. ET and will be televised on BTN Plus.