After a stretch of close games to open the Big Ten schedule, the Ohio State women’s basketball team finally put together a full 40 minutes of dominance on Sunday afternoon, beating down Illinois 88-64 at Value City Arena in Columbus.
The Buckeyes, who knocked down 14 three-point field goals in the game, improved to 7-1 in conference play, and are now in the softest spot of their schedule all season. The next four opponents for the scarlet and gray occupy the bottom half of the Big Ten standings.
Kelsey Mitchell, the conference’s leading scorer, hit seven three-pointers and put up a game-high 22 points for Ohio State. The junior All-American also dished out six assists.
Complementing Mitchell was Sierra Calhoun, who connected three times from behind the arc and scored 11 points, and Asia Doss and Kiara Lewis, who each hit twice from deep and had 10 apiece.
Brandi Beasley paced the Illini with 17 points, while Alex Wittinger had a double-double, scoring 10 and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Beasley scored the first six points of the game for Illinois, but the Illini then missed their next eight shots, going scoreless for nearly five and a half minutes as Ohio State ripped off 15 straight points.
The Buckeyes took a 20-14 lead after the first quarter, aided by eight points off turnovers and 4-for-9 shooting from beyond the three-point arc. Calhoun had two of those makes, leading the team with six points, while Mitchell added five of her own.
Another quick five points for Beasley out of the chute in the second, coupled with 1-for-5 shooting from Ohio State, spurred a 7-2 Illinois run that cut the deficit to 22-21. The action got ugly for a while after that, with both sides connecting on just one of their next six shots from the field and the Buckeyes turning it over three times in quick succession.
Mitchell connected on four three-pointers in the frame to help keep Ohio State afloat, and a field goal drought of nearly four minutes by Illinois ensured a Buckeye lead heading into the locker room. One final long-range make, this time from Doss, completed a 9-0 run and stretched the lead out to 41-29.
Ohio State had nine three-point connections in the half, and Mitchell’s 5-for-8 performance from downtown and 17 points led the way. Beasley had 13 points for the Illini, the only member of the visiting team to reach double figures.
The third quarter began with much of the same ugly shooting that characterized the first half. The Buckeyes made one of their first five attempts from the floor, and Illinois just one of its first four. Ohio State’s secondary weapons, led by Lewis and Linnae Harper, provided a little spark that helped extend the lead to 53-35 by the midway point in the period.
The Illini were not helped by seven turnovers in the third or the 23-2 points off miscues advantage the Buckeyes built up, and after another Calhoun triple and a Stephanie Mavunga layup, Ohio State had pushed out to a 59-37 advantage.
Despite a field goal drought of just under three minutes, the Buckeyes moved to the final quarter with a commanding 70-39 lead thanks to a 23-4 run punctuated by a Doss steal and three-pointer as the buzzer sounded on the third.
In the fourth quarter, head coach Kevin McGuff sat his starters, and saw Illinois outscore Ohio State 25-18, but the victory was already well in hand.
Up next for Ohio State is a trip to Minneapolis on Thursday for a tilt with the rebuilding Golden Gophers. The game will be available for live streaming on BTN Plus and is scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. ET.