Ohio State women's basketball entered Thursday night's matchup with Wisconsin on a five-game winning streak, but the past four victories had not come easily. That's why a runaway win over the Badgers was such a welcome sight at Value City Arena. The Buckeyes took the game 87-61.
Ranked No. 7 in the country, Ohio State improved to 10-1 in the conference, and 18-4 overall. This despite the Buckeyes leading scorer, sophomore Kelsey Mitchell contributing just 16 points.
The shooting issues that have plagued Ohio State since Big Ten play began continued early in this one. The Buckeyes missed their first seven three-point attempts and shot just 7-for-21 (33.3 percent) overall in the first quarter.
Mitchell, who leads the conference in scoring and is third in the country, attempted just one shot in the frame and did not get on the board.
Sophomore Asia Doss and junior Shayla Cooper knocked down triples on three consecutive possessions and senior Ameryst Alston got a layup as Ohio State finished the quarter on a 11-0 run for a 19-12 lead.
Wisconsin got all 12 of its first quarter points from seniors Michala Johnson and Dakota Whyte, who scored six apiece.
In the second quarter, the Buckeyes came out on fire, jumping out to a 30-14 lead. Mitchell got on the board with a three-pointer on the first possession, and the Badgers turned it over four times in quick succession.
Sophomore Cayla McMorris scored eight straight points, including knocking down a pair of three-point shots, and leading scorer, senior Nicole Bauman, scored five points in the quarter, as Wisconsin tried to stay in contact. The Badgers went into the locker room trailing 46-33.
Cooper, who did not play in Monday's 80-70 victory at Illinois due to a coach's decision, sparked Ohio State's attack, scoring 10 points and grabbing seven rebounds off the bench. Senior Ameryst Alston led all scorers with 12 points and also dished out three assists, while sophomore Alexa Hart added 10 points and five rebounds of her own.
Mitchell scored just three points on 1-for-4 shooting in the first half in one of her slower starts this season, but took care of the ball very well. The Buckeyes turned the ball over just once all half, while Wisconsin committed 10 miscues.
Ball security continued to be an issue for the Badgers in the third quarter, as they turned the ball over six times in the first five minutes. Alston knocked down a trio of three-pointers as Ohio State capitalized and pushed the lead out to 23 at 59-36.
Wisconsin scored only seven points in the quarter, and turned it over a total of seven times, heading to the final ten minutes facing a 65-40 deficit.
Again, the Buckeyes started the quarter with a long-range make from Mitchell, which she followed up the next possession with another. At 71-40, the Badgers seemingly had no answers, though Bauman scored 11 points in the quarter.
Bauman led Wisconsin with 19 points in the losing effort. McMorris added 12 and Johnson and Whyte had 10 apiece.
Alston led all scorers with 21 points, while Cooper added a double-double with 16 and 10. Mitchell finished with 16, nine below her average.
Ohio State's next game is a huge one, with both Big Ten and national implications. Fifth-ranked Maryland will be in Columbus on Monday night for a 9:00 p.m. ET tip-off. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.