Ohio State (22-5, 12-1) stretched out its winning streak to eight straight, edging out the Iowa Hawkeyes (15-10, 6-6) 88-81 Sunday.
The Buckeyes were led by junior guard Kelsey Mitchell and senior forward Shayla Cooper with 20 points apiece. Cooper also lead the team in rebounds (8) and assists (5).
The first half was a fast paced shootout from both sides of the court. The Buckeyes came out in a full-court press in the first quarter, but the Hawkeyes were able to handle the ball.
OSU had a tough time stopping Iowa’s shot attempts, as the Hawkeyes shot 48.6 percent at the end of the first half. OSU held their own shooting 48.5 percent and scoring extra points from the charity line, hitting five of their seven free throws.
With leading scorer Mitchell off to a slow start with only four points at the half, other Buckeyes stepped up. Junior guard Sierra Calhoun hit four 3-pointers before the end of the half, scoring 14 points. She finished her game with 19 points.
The half ended with the Buckeyes having the slight edge, 41-38. Calhoun gave credit to her teammates for her shooting well against Iowa.
“Teammates did great job of finding me, coaches came up with a great gameplan and against their defense we executed well,” she said.
Cooper jokingly added her words of encouragement to Calhoun prior to the opening tip.
“Before the game started I told her, ‘When I pass you the ball you better shoot it, because I’m not passing it for no reason,’” Cooper said.
Going into the third and fourth quarter, the game stayed at its’ same fast but even pace. The momentum officially swung in the favor of OSU with 3:45 minutes left of play.
Iowa and OSU were tied at 72, when freshman guard Kierra Lewis hit a contested layup to put the Buckeyes up two. On the other side Iowa missed a layup, and Lewis capitalized on the fast break opportunity hitting another layup.
Mitchell then scored three straight times, followed by a Cooper layup allowing the Buckeyes to go on 12-0 run. This run sealed the deal for the Buckeyes, allowing them to walk away with their 13th straight home win.
OSU coach Kevin McGuff mentioned that the close game scenario could be looked at in a positive light.
“For us to have to executive offensively in a tight situation is good for us,” he said. “For us to have to get stops and rebounds down the stretch is also something we need to be doing this time of year.”
OSU also relied on their ability to shoot well at the line and good passing to pull through with the win. The Buckeyes scored 20 points from the free throw line and dished out 18 assists on the night.
However, the Buckeyes missed their leading rebounder junior forward Stephanie Mavunga, as the second best rebounding team in the nation was out rebounded by Iowa 39-36.
Mavunga could be out for the next few weeks, and McGuff mentioned that rebounding is something the team will have to collectively work on for the time being.
“Steph is one of the best rebounders in college basketball, so we will have to make that up by committee, more than just one person,” he said.
Iowa also had four players score double digits, and were led by senior guard Ally Disterhoft with 22 points, followed by sophomore forward Gustafson with 17.
The Buckeyes will play next at Nebraska at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday.