No. 9 Ohio State (3-1) rode a season-high 32-point performance from guard Kelsey Mitchell and guard Linnae Harper’s career-high 23 points to a 95-63 win against Quinnipiac (0-3) Friday night at the Schottenstein Center.
Harper also pulled down 10 rebounds, which gave the 5-foot-8 guard her third double-double of the season.
“She’s one of the most unique players in college basketball with the fact that she’s such a great rebounder and defender for her size,” head coach Kevin McGuff said. “We can get away with playing small because of that. It gives us an opportunity to do some different types of things.”
Mitchell converted 6-of-9 3s, including three in a row down the stretch. She drilled a her final 3-pointer with 4:09 remaining in the contest to give her 32 points — which eclipsed her former season-high of 30 points — and cap off a 13-0 run.
A preseason first-team All-American, Mitchell said she felt like she got into a rhythm near the end of the game.
“It’s just a flow, still try to play within the game system, trying to play within the gameplay defensively and offensively,” Mitchell said. “But what ever you see, try to go for it.”
Despite the 32-point win against a team that made it to the Sweet 16 last season, McGuff was not pleased by Ohio State’s performance.
“I thought we played hard throughout the game, but we had some stretches where we just mentally had lapses and when we did that, they made us pay,” McGuff said. “So that was kind of the message afterward, if we’re going to be the team that we’re capable of being, it’s got to be a much more consistent mental effort for closer to 40 minutes.”
Quinnipiac ended the third quarter on a 7-0 run, trimming its deficit to 65-53. But Ohio State quickly quenched any Bobcat comeback hopes with Mavunga hitting two free throws and Calhoun scoring an and-1 layup to put the Buckeyes up 70-53.
Mitchell chalked rebounding up to the reason for Ohio State pulling away from the Bobcats with a 30-10 fourth quarter.
“It takes us a long way,” Mitchell said. “Y’all know how we are, if we get a rebound, we get it in transition, it’s always positive for us.”
Ohio State held just a one-rebound advantage at halftime, but ended the game with a 55-40 rebound lead. Of the Buckeyes’ 17 transition points, 15 came in the second half when they were able to corral rebounds and turn them into points.
Redshirt senior forward Stephanie Mavunga also picked up her third double-double of the season. She dropped 12 points and snagged up 11 rebounds. Most of her buckets came from the charity stripe as she made eight free throws.
The Bobcats played 11 players and were helped by 23 bench points, while Ohio State’s bench combined for just 11 points. Quinnipiac frequently subbed five-person lineup in and out out of the game.
“You’ve got to know personnel,” Mitchell said. “A person like [forward Jen Fay] that can put it on the floor and shoot it, but you don’t know whether she’s a [power forward] or a [center]. But then she’ll go right back out and come right back in and you don’t know who to guard. It was different.”
Playing its second game in three days, Ohio State came out of the gate slow. The Bobcats pulled ahead to a 12-8 lead, but Harper hit a 3-pointer and Mitchell hit a jumper to give the Buckeyes a lead they would not relinquish.
The Buckeyes entered halftime leading 46-32 as the Bobcat offense faltered down the stretch of the first half as the visitors hit just two of its final 12 shots of the half. Quinnipiac junior guard/forward Aryn McClure was tied with forward Jen Fay for the team-lead with 15 points.
Redshirt junior guard Sierra Calhoun finished fourth on Ohio State with 11 points, but went just 3-for-13 from the field.
Ohio State will look for its third-straight victory when it takes on Washington at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Schottenstein Center.