No. 5 Ohio State (1-0) used a big second half to beat No. 10 Stanford (0-1) 85-64 in the season opener for both teams.
Senior guard Kelsey Mitchell led the Buckeyes with 30 points on 10-of-23 shooting, but it was redshirt senior forward Stephanie Mavunga who stole the show with 17 points and 26 rebounds. The rebounds are a new school record and a career-high for Mavunga, who averaged 10.8 boards a game last season.
“I didn’t shoot it very well, not well at all … but [Mavunga] made it better for all of us,” Mitchell said.
It wasn’t just Mitchell who struggled shooting. Ohio State shot only 35 percent from the field, but outrebounded Stanford 64-41, including a 28-9 advantage on offensive rebounds.
“Our intensity and effort on the boards was fantastic,” head coach Kevin McGuff said. “We got so many extra possessions it allowed us to kind of look good offensively with what we scored, but really it wasn’t a very efficient offensive night for us.”
The Buckeyes started off the game aggressive, driving to the hole and drawing fouls early on. Mitchell scored 10 of Ohio State’s first 21 points of the game, which included a couple transition 3-pointers that she hit under heavy contention.
The Buckeyes led 27-24 after the first quarter, but allowed Stanford to hit on 69 percent of its shots in the frame, while Ohio State shot only 40 percent from the field.
“We got a little bit out of whack with our transition defense for a stretch and they made us pay on that, so they were getting easy shots,” McGuff said. “Then we kind of got back to just playing sound fundamental defense and making them shoot over us.”
Stanford regained a 33-32 lead early in the second quarter, then went scoreless for the next 5 1/2 minutes. That allowed the Buckeyes to go on an 11-1 run, led by Mavunga, who by halftime had nine points and 11 rebounds, six of which were offensive.
Mitchell sat for only 15 seconds the entire first half, and the Buckeyes went into the half up 46-40 after Stanford senior guard Brittany McPhee nailed a half-court shot before time expired.
Ohio State put the foot on the gas in the second half, starting the third quarter on a 12-2 run. The Buckeyes’ lead would reach 20, but they led 70-54 going into the fourth quarter.
The domination continued in the final quarter, with Mitchell scoring the first nine points in the fourth for Ohio State. She ended with 30 points on the night and passed Katie Smith for second on Ohio State’s all-time scoring list with her 2,579th point.
The records didn’t stop there. Late in the fourth quarter, Mavunga broke the school record with her 26 rebounds on the night to go alone with her 17 points. Of her 26 boards, 14 were on the offensive side.
“That’s something that I feel like I can control,” Mavunga said. “What I can control, and helping my teammates if I’m not doing anything else, is rebounding the ball.”
Ohio State controlled the tempo late and was able to hold on for the decisive win. McPhee led Stanford with 24 points. Not a single other Cardinal managed to score in double figures.
The Buckeyes move quickly into another tough matchup Sunday against No. 9 Louisville. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. at Nationwide Arena.