In a matchup between two of the top teams in the country, the 7th-ranked Ohio State women’s basketball team couldn’t overcome a spotty shooting night, a huge deficit in the paint, and 37 points from 4th-ranked South Carolina’s Kaela Davis, as the Buckeyes fell, 92-80, to the Gamecocks at Value City Arena in Columbus.
Head coach Kevin McGuff watched his team shoot just 40 percent from the floor, including a paltry 7-for-27 (25.9 percent) from three-point range, get outrebounded 48 to 36, and yield 44 paint points to the visitors.
The game also pitted two of the premier players in the land in Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell and South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson. That matchup ended in the scarlet and gray’s favor, as Mitchell paced the Buckeyes with 27 points while Wilson spent the majority of the night on the Gamecocks’ bench because of foul trouble, scoring just five in 16 total minutes.
The story early on was that of the two preseason All-Americans - Mitchell and Wilson - both running into early foul trouble with two apiece in the first quarter. Ohio State led 18-17 after the first 10 minutes on the strength of Stephanie Mavunga’s six points. Mitchell was 1-for-4 in the opening frame, but added five to the effort.
Wilson sat out the entire second quarter, but a field goal drought of nearly four minutes by the Buckeyes, coupled with two long-range makes by South Carolina’s Davis, a Georgia Tech transfer and former No. 2 recruit in the country, and strong interior play by Alaina Coates allowed the Gamecocks to streak out to a 33-25 lead with four minutes remaining in the half.
A Sierra Calhoun three-pointer and five straight points from Mitchell brought Ohio State back into close contact, and the two sides traded hoops at a frenzied pace until the intermission. South Carolina, behind Davis’ 15 points and Coates’ eight points and eight boards went to the locker room with a 44-39 lead.
Mitchell led the Buckeyes with 13 points in the half, but shot just 4-for-10 from the floor. As a team, Ohio State was a frigid 4-for-14 (28.6 percent) from beyond the three-point arc.
Another two fouls in the third quarter quickly sent Wilson back to the Gamecocks’ bench, and the Buckeyes forced seven turnovers in the period, but another field goal drought of nearly five minutes meant they couldn’t capitalize. 11 points in the quarter from Davis kept South Carolina on top, 67-59, headed to the fourth.
Ohio State’s third prolonged field goal drought of the game allowed things to get out of hand, as the Gamecocks went on a 10-0 run to push their lead out to 77-63 midway through the fourth quarter. Davis continued to get whatever she wanted, punctuating the run with a deep bomb from about five feet behind the three-point line.
Davis finished with a double-double, grabbing 10 rebounds, and also dished out five assists and grabbed three steals. Allisha Gray added 24 points for South Carolina, while Calhoun scored 18 of her own for the Buckeyes.
Up next for Ohio State as the squad tries to regroup is a home game against Cleveland State on Wednesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET, and the game will be streamed live on BTN Plus.