On a night when senior Ameryst Alston was recognized before tip-off for becoming the sixth player in program history to score 2,000 career points, the Ohio State women's basketball team cruised to a 96-70 win over Nebraska at Value City Arena.
"I thought we got the pace going the way we wanted to and we made shots," head coach Kevin McGuff said after the game. "When we move the ball and share the scoring, we're at our best."
The Buckeyes, who moved up to No. 5 in the polls this week, used a hot start and balanced scoring to improve to 22-4 on the season. At 14-1 in the Big Ten, the team is solidly in control of its own destiny for the conference tournament.
Ohio State surged to a 20-10 lead in the game's first five minutes on the strength of 4-for-7 three-point shooting. Alston knocked down two and sophomore Kelsey Mitchell and senior Cait Craft each had one. Nebraska struggled to score, with freshman Jessica Shepard the only Husker who was effective, scoring 10 points in the quarter.
Sophomore Alexa Hart got going in the paint, scoring eight points on 4-for-4 shooting as the Buckeyes finished the quarter making 58 percent from the floor and leading 26-17.
Junior Shayla Cooper got into the act early in the second quarter, drilling a three-pointer and a jumper as Ohio State pushed the lead out to 32-21, but Nebraska had a quick 5-0 spurt to cut the lead to six.
A pair of Alston jumpers and a steal and layup by sophomore Asia Doss ended the comeback and spurred a 10-2 run to give the Buckeyes their largest lead at 42-28. That lead was extended to 47-32 by another Mitchell three and a jump-hook by Hart. When Mitchell splashed her third triple of the half as time expired, Ohio State took a 50-34 lead to the locker room.
Hart led all scorers with 13 first half points. Alston added 12 and Mitchell had nine.
The intermission did nothing to cool Mitchell off, as she made another from beyond the arc to start the third quarter. Doss then made a nice hustle play, leaping out of bounds to save a ball and then being rewarded with a wide open three from the corner, and the Buckeyes opened up a 19-point lead, 57-38.
The Huskers simply could not find any rhythm on offense, and when Kelsey's sister Chelsea Mitchell knocked down a three-pointer with a little over a minute remaining in the quarter, the score was 70-44. Cooper capped the frame off with a long-range make of her own, and Ohio State took a 73-46 lead to the final ten minutes.
Nebraska was really unable to put much of a dent in the lead during the fourth quarter as the Buckeyes' shooting percentage for the game continued to hover above 50 percent. Shepard continued to work underneath, finishing the game with 20 points and eight rebounds, but Ohio State was simply too much on this night.
Five Buckeyes scored in double figures, led by Hart's 18. Alston and Mitchell both added 16, and Cooper put together a double-double with 16 points and 11 boards. The team shot over 54 percent from the floor collectively, including 13-for-24 from beyond the arc.
The final home game of the season comes on Sunday afternoon against Illinois. For Alston and Craft, it will be Senior Day. The game tips off at 2 p.m. ET and will be available on BTN Plus.