Ohio State women’s basketball found itself in a strange place on Tuesday night. The Buckeyes were on the business end of a beatdown at the hands of Michigan State, 94-75, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
Ohio State’s usually potent offense was flat from the outset, falling well short of its 89 point per game average, and shooting just 31 percent as a team. The Buckeyes, ranked 11th in the country, now find themselves 4-1 in conference play and 14-5 overall.
The game featured the Big Ten’s two leading scorers in Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell and Michigan State’s Tori Jankoska. To say Jankoska got the better of this matchup would be a severe understatement.
The senior from Freeland, Michigan became the Spartans’ all-time career scoring leader early in the first quarter, and her 42 points for the game also broke the program’s single-game mark. Jankoska was 14-for-25 from the field, including 8-for-19 from the three-point line, and also contributed six rebounds and seven assists.
Mitchell struggled with her shot, scoring just 13 points on 4-for-18 shooting, and was an uncharacteristically ineffective 1-for-7 from long range.
Kiara Lewis gave the Buckeyes a shot in the arm with 11 points off the bench, and Stephanie Mavunga did what we’ve come to expect from her, scoring nine points and grabbing 15 rebounds narrowly missing her eighth double-double of the season.
Jankoska made short work of reaching the career scoring record, scoring eight of Michigan State’s first 11 points within just three minutes of game time. Ripping nylon on a corner three, she passed Aerial Payne as the program’s preeminent scorer.
The Spartans employed a 2-3 zone early on that slowed Ohio State’s usually prodigious offense capabilities. The Buckeyes started 2-for-7 from the floor and turned the ball over twice, finding themselves in an 15-5 hole.
Ohio State responded with a 7-0 run to get back into contact, sparked by Makayla Waterman, who scored four quick points off the bench. The sophomore also set a solid screen to give Mitchell the room she needed to knock down a three-pointer from the top of the key.
In a quarter of runs, Michigan State looked to Jankoska, and she hit back-to-back triples as part of an ensuing 7-0 run that pushed the lead out to 22-12. The Buckeyes came back from that with another 7-0 run that included two jumpers by Alexa Hart and an and-one from Mitchell.
When the first ten minutes concluded, the Spartans were up 32-22, and Jankoska had scored 19, as the green and white finished out on with an 8-2 flourish.
A field goal drought of nearly four minutes by Ohio State to start the second quarter enabled Michigan State to go on another 8-0 run and build the lead to 40-27 after four minutes. The Buckeyes missed eight consecutive shots and saw their shooting percentage for the game plummet to just over 36 percent, including a meager 2-for-11 from beyond the three-point arc.
The game continued to play to type, though, as Lewis scored four off the bench to spark a 6-0 run for Ohio State. After a Shayla Cooper three, the deficit had shrunk to 43-37, but the Spartans rode their scorching perimeter shooting to finish the half on a 9-0 run that included two more three-pointers for Jankoska. The lead after twenty minutes was 54-41, a season-high for first half points for Michigan State.
Jankoska led all scorers 31 in the half, making seven from behind the arc, as the Spartans shot 10-for-16 from deep.
The Buckeyes shot under 40 percent from the floor, and Mitchell’s struggles in particular were striking. The All-American was just 3-for-11 from the field, 1-for-5 from three-point land, in scoring a team-high eight points. Ohio State connected on just three of its twelve attempts from deep, and was outscored 15-4 on the fast break.
The second half started much as the first, with Ohio State experiencing a field goal drought of nearly four minutes, going just 2-for-10 through the first five minutes. Michigan State extended the lead to 63-48, and Jankoska crept closer to the program’s single-game scoring record.
Another field goal drought by the Buckeyes, this time lasting more than four minutes, led to the largest lead of the game for the Spartans at 72-52, but an uptick in defensive intensity forced multiple turnovers. Ohio State closed the period on a 9-0 run, trailing 72-61 with just ten minutes remaining.
Michigan State went scoreless for the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, but the Buckeyes once again found a lid on the basket. Failing to make a field goal for nearly three minutes, the visitors were unable to dig into the deficit.
A pair of free throws with 3:34 to go gave Jankoska the single-game mark, and saw the Spartan lead balloon back to twenty. It was her night in every way.
Ohio State will be on the floor again Sunday in a road game against Purdue in West Lafayette. Tip is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET, with the game being televised live on ESPN2.