INDIANAPOLIS — The Ohio State women’s basketball team cruised to a 82-57 win against Rutgers to advance to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament Friday at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Senior guard Kelsey Mitchell’s 22 point-performance and a 17-4 run to start the third quarter put the game away for the Buckeyes, who went up 28 points and held a commanding 58-30 advantage midway through the third quarter.
The tournament’s top seed, Ohio State (25-6, 13-3 Big Ten) will face the winner of Friday’s game between fifth-seeded Iowa and fourth-seeded Minnesota at 6 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals. If they win, the Buckeyes would play in the conference championship at 7 p.m. Sunday.
A strong defensive second quarter proved to be pivotal for Ohio State, which held a 41-26 lead heading into the third quarter. The Scarlet Knights (20-12, 7-9 Big Ten) shot just 20 percent in the second quarter on 3-for-15 shooting. The 3-pointer would not fall either for Rutgers, which went 1-of-7 from deep in the second quarter and just 1-of-11 in the first half.
The Scarlet Knights finished with 32.4 percent shooting, including 22.7 percent from beyond the arc. The Buckeyes managed a 48.3 shooting percentage.
The defense for Ohio State did not fall off in the third quarter. It held Rutgers to 2-of-11 shooting and the Buckeyes forced seven turnovers in the quarter. Ohio State outscored the Scarlet Knights 28-7 in the third and held a 69-33 point lead heading into the final quarter of play, which it held onto for the remainder of the game.
Redshirt senior Tyler Scaife led Rutgers with 13 points. Scaife was the lone player on her team to reach double-digits. She did not get much help from her other teammates. The Scarlet Knights’ second-leading scorer had just seven points.
The Buckeyes played short-handed without senior guard Asia Doss, who is day-to-day with a ankle sprain. Senior forward Alexa Hart, who started in place for Doss, scored 10 points and corralled six rebounds.
“I thought we did a good job, Alexa in particular,” Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff said. “But overall the group responded well and I thought today was a good performance, especially on the defensive end. Our kids played hard and competed. It’s a good win. Rutgers is a very talented and they’ve had a lot of success this year. Overall good first day for us.”
Mitchell had to be more ball dominant than usual with the absence of Doss. Ohio State will require a greater reliance on her handing the ball if Doss is unable to play in the upcoming game.
“It’s a lot more difficult when our best defender is out, and with that being said, you kind of try to fill out those other things, whether that be in the gap or being in help or apply pressure,” Mitchell said. “Asia was always good for that. It wasn’t a totally different role for me, but I did step out of my comfort zone a little bit.”
The Scarlet Knights defeated Purdue 62-60 on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals. The Buckeyes had two bye games and were playing their first game of the tournament.
This was the Buckeyes’ second win against Rutgers this season. Ohio State came out with a 90-68 victory against the Scarlet Knights in January.