The Ohio State women’s basketball team had to ferociously compete in its 85-64 win against No. 14 Stanford and in its 95-90 overtime loss to No. 5 Louisville, but its road to victory against Idaho proved to be much easier.
Behind a 59-35 rebounding advantage, No. 9 Ohio State (2-1) defeated Idaho (1-1) 99-56 to pick up the program’s 1,000th victory Wednesday night at the Schottenstein Center.
Redshirt junior guard Linnae Harper tallied a team-leading 18 points and 18 boards. Ohio State a 22-4 advantage in offensive rebounds and 5-foot-8 Harper, who started in the Buckeyes’ four-guard starting lineup, led the team with six offensive boards.
“I’m just trying to be whatever the team needs me to be,” Harper said. “Yeah, I think it’s very versatile, but I think it requires a very mental, disciplined focus from me to be able to switch back and forth.”
Redshirt senior forward Stephanie Mavunga had 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting and added 14 rebounds. She struggled in the Buckeyes’ second game of the year against Louisville after corralling a school-record 26 rebounds against Stanford in the season opener.
“She gives that inside presence,” head coach Kevin McGuff said. “What it does is it gives us more balance. We can get shot-happy from the perimeter. If we can get the ball to her around the basket, just get a little more balance in what we’re doing.”
Mavunga and Harper each had double-doubles before halftime. The Buckeyes held a 19-0 edge in second-chance points and 36 of their points came from inside the paint. Ohio State’s 59 rebounds were more than it had in any game last season.
The Buckeyes trailed 7-5 to begin the game, then redshirt junior guard Sierra Calhoun drained a jumper and they went on an 18-point run fueled by impressive ball movement. The Vandals, who made 18 3-pointers in their season-opening 83-69 win against Colorado State, had open looks, but failed to convert them into points. Idaho made six of its 32 3-point attempts.
“We defended it well in practice and that just carried over to the game,” Harper said. “We just tried to focus on that and make sure that we kept them off the line because they’re a very great 3-point shooting team.”
The Buckeyes connected on 13-of-34 shots from beyond the arc. Senior guard Kelsey Mitchell led Ohio State with four 3-pointers and scored 16 points while adding four assists.
The Buckeyes ended the first half on an 11-1 run in the final 3:04 of the second quarter and entered halftime with a commanding 49-24 lead. Idaho never came within 23 points of Ohio State the remainder of the game.
Calhoun rebounded from her 2-for-14 performance last game and made 6-of-13 shots for 15 points. Sophomore guard Jensen Caretti scored double-digits for the first time in her career, connecting on 5-of-9 shots for 14 points.
“Tonight was really valuable for her and hopefully she can continue to gain confidence as we aspire to expand our rotation a little bit more,” McGuff said.
Guard Mikayla Ferenz and forward Geraldine McCorkell led the way for Idaho, scoring 17 and 14 points, respectively.
Ohio State will next take the court at 7 p.m. Friday against Quinnipiac.