Despite being the underdog, the Ohio State women’s basketball team upset No. 21 West Virginia 96-54 after overcoming a slow start.
OSU was down 7-1 almost three minutes into the first-half, but the Buckeyes (8-4) went on a 26-7 run in the next 6:31 to pull away from the Mountaineers.
“We did what we wanted to do,” coach Kevin McGuff said. “We played really hard. They’re a really good team and they didn’t have a really good day. Partly because we played really well and partly they didn’t have a great day like we all have.”
Mountaineers assistant coach Lester Rowe said that shooting percentage and turnovers were key in the Buckeye win.
“The 28 points they got off our turnovers was the difference right there,” Rowe said. “They controlled the tempo and we got in foul trouble.”
OSU freshman guard Kelsey Mitchell, led all scorers with 39 points, which ties the highest scoring performance this season and the highest of her Buckeye career to date. Junior guard Ameryst Alston followed by scoring 26 points on 50 percent shooting.
The Mountaineers (9-2) scored just 29 points in the first half, shooting just 35.3 percent from the floor. Their leading scorer junior guard Bria Holmes, who ranks tenth in the nation in points per game with 22.9, finished with 17 points.
Monday’s win was also special for Buckeye sophomore forward Shayla Cooper. The 6-foot-2 transfer from Georgetown was eligible for her first game with the Buckeyes this season. She scored 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes played.
Cooper said that after not playing in a collegiate game in over a year, it was hard to control her excitement.
“It started this morning when I couldn’t sleep since 7 a.m.,” Cooper said. “I just had dreams about it, nightmares, beautiful dreams, everything. It’s been a year, so i’ve prepared myself along the way and when (McGuff) called my name to go, it was like it’s go time, you got to go.”
Cooper’s presence was noted by McGuff.
“You can see the energy and toughness she brings is apparent,” McGuff said. “The things that she’s brings obviously are things that we’ve been needing.”
McGuff added that with Cooper in the line-up, it allowed OSU’s starters to play in roles that they’re more comfortable in.
“It also allows everyone to do the things that they’re good at,” he said. “Alexa (Hart is) not always in a wrestling match on the basket and Cait (Craft) can do a little more of what she does well, instead of having to be around the basket.”
With the win, the Buckeyes earned their first win over a ranked team on the season.
OSU isn’t scheduled to play again until Dec. 29 at No. 15 Maryland (9-2). The game will be the Terrapins first Big Ten conference game. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.