After an eight-day layoff, the Ohio State women’s basketball team took advantage of a late cold spell by visiting Iowa to put together a 16-9 run in the final minutes and claim a 88-81 victory at Value City Arena in Columbus. The Buckeyes have now won a season-high eight in a row and stand 12-1 in Big Ten play.
Ohio State got the win despite major struggles by Kelsey Mitchell for much of the game. The Buckeyes’ All-American guard scored 20 pretty ugly points, shooting just 7-for-19 from the field and making just one of eight from three point range.
Ohio State was also without the Big Ten’s leading rebounder Stephanie Mavunga, who suffered a foot injury and is expected to miss a couple of weeks. But the Buckeyes got 19 points from Sierra Calhoun and an 20 point, eight rebound effort from Shayla Cooper to help make up for the lost production.
Iowa, one of the youngest teams in the conference, got 22 points from Ally Disterhoft and a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds from Megan Gustafson in the losing effort.
Ohio State showed little rust from its layoff early, as Cooper asserted herself for four quick points and Calhoun knocked down a pair of three-pointers en route to a 14-7 lead. Disterhoft kept Iowa in contact, though, scoring five and finding Gustafson for a layup with a nice dime.
The Buckeyes went cold to close the first quarter, managing just six points in the final four and a half minutes, which allowed the Hawkeyes to close the deficit. After ten minutes, the score was tied at 20.
Iowa came out strong to start the second, hitting on their first four shots from the floor. Calhoun stayed hot from beyond the arc, though, knocking down her third of the half, which was followed by a layup from Tori McCoy that sent Gustafson to the bench with her second foul and gave Ohio State a slim 33-29 lead.
Disterhoft and Makenzie Meyer picked up the slack with Gustafson on the bench, combining to score 12 points in the frame, but Calhoun’s fourth three-point make sent the Buckeyes into the locker room with a 41-38 advantage.
Calhoun’s 14 points paced Ohio State, while Cooper added 10. Mitchell scored just four on 2-for-8 shooting, and missed all four of her attempts from long range. Disterhoft scored 14 to lead the Hawkeyes, who failed to score in the final two minutes of the half.
The third quarter saw Mitchell finally connect from three for the first time and Calhoun knock down her fifth, and Cooper show her inside-out versatility, as the Buckeyes took their largest lead of the game at 55-44 with just over five minutes to go.
Gustafson finally got a rhythm going with the absence of Mavunga down low, scoring five straight points for Iowa and nine in the period. Ohio State once again had an icy spell, hitting on just one of its last five shots and turning it over three times in quick succession, and took just a 64-58 lead to the final ten minutes.
Right out of the gate to start the fourth quarter, Meyer hit a three and Disterhoft and Kathleen Doyle each split a pair of free throws to fuel a 9-0 run for the Hawkeyes that closed the gap to 64-63. After Mitchell uncharacteristically missed a free throw, Alexa Kastanek hit a three to give Iowa its first lead since the midway point of the second quarter, 66-65.
Both sides had trouble putting the ball in the bucket after that, with Iowa failing to hit on a field goal for nearly five minutes and Ohio State for two and a half. But both also wore out a path to the free throw line, combining for 25 attempts in the final frame.
A pair of layups by Kiara Lewis and a pair of Mitchell jumpers gave the Buckeyes an 80-72 lead with just over two minutes remaining, and fast break layups off turnovers by Mitchell and Cooper iced things from there as Ohio State held on.
Up next, the Buckeyes will take on Nebraska in Lincoln on Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. ET. The game will be streaming live on BTN Plus.