The Ohio State women’s basketball team, led by its five seniors, advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament with a 87-45 victory against George Washington Saturday afternoon at St. John Arena. The Buckeyes will take on 11th-seeded Central Michigan in the second round at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
The third-seeded Buckeyes handled the 14th-seeded Colonials in their first-ever meeting. Ohio State has now won 12 of its past 13 games and has scored less than 70 points just once in those victories.
An 11-0 run to open the third quarter closed the doors for any possible comeback from George Washington, pulling ahead 50-27 midway through the quarter. The Buckeyes finished the third quarter with a 64-34 lead.
Ohio State outscored George Washington 25-7 in the third quarter, going 10-of-17 from the field compared to the Colonials’ 3-of-18. George Washington turned the ball over four times, which allowed the Buckeyes to run in transition.
Ohio State redshirt senior forward Stephanie Mavunga finished the game with 22 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks. Senior forward Alexa Hart started her fourth game in a row and had 12 points and five rebounds. Senior guard Asia Doss, who sat out the entire Big Ten tournament with a sprained ankle, added eight points in 22 minutes off the bench.
With Ohio State senior guard Kelsey Mitchell, the nation’s second-leading scorer with 24.5 points per game entering Saturday, only scoring 11 points, it’s hard to imagine the Buckeyes could score 86 points and win by a 42-point margin.
“I think the good and positive about our team is that have just so many different players with so many different abilities,” Mavunga said. “If one person is down or one person wants to facilitate that day, someone could just easily step up. Another thing is that our team is has been really working on working as a team, playing hard, playing smart, playing together. With that comes passing more and driving and making the open shot rather than forcing it.”
A 22-point second quarter saw the Buckeyes extend their five-point lead to 12 heading into halftime. The 3-pointer was not falling for Ohio State, so aggressive play from Mavunga and Mitchell powered the team in the opening half and combined for 23 of the team’s 39 points at halftime.
In the first half, George Washington kept itself relatively alive thanks to 3-point shooting and questionable shot selection from the Buckeyes. But as their shots stopped falling and the Buckeyes got in rhythm, the team quickly fell behind.
The Colonials’ leading scorer, senior guard Brianna Cummings, finished with just 14 points. George Washington struggled to find any sort of offense after keeping it relatively close in the first quarter, only trailing 17-12 after 10 minutes.
George Washington shot just 27 percent from the field, compared to Ohio State’s 56 percent. After making four 3-pointers in the first half, George Washington made only one more the rest of the game. In addition to the Colonials’ shot not falling, they were outscored 46-20 in the paint.
Following Ohio State’s victory over Maryland in the Big Ten tournament championship game, the team nearly had two weeks off since its last game. But Buckeye head coach Kevin McGuff said he was pleased with his team’s effort despite various miscues.
“I think Steph got it right, in that we had stretches where we were really, really good, but we also had some stretches where we were sloppy, we had some silly turnovers,” he said. “We had some stretches in the first half where I didn’t like our transition defense, gave up a couple 3s. Overall, I think it was a really good performance from us, especially since we haven’t played in two weeks, but we just had some stretches where we could have been a little bit better.”
On Monday, the Buckeyes will play the Chippewas, who upset No. 6 seed LSU on Saturday.