The Buckeyes were saved by the Bell in their win over Illinois.
Ohio State (11-7, 4-3 Big Ten) got back to its winning ways with a 77-47 win over Illinois (10-8, 1-6), as the Buckeyes broke it open in the second half.
“I thought we moved the ball and executed,” head coach Kevin McGuff said.
Ohio State freshman guard Kierstan Bell, who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week this past week, racked up a career high 19 points off the bench — 12 of which came in the second half.
Bell finished 3-for-6 from beyond the arc and added eight rebounds.
“They left a lot of lanes open for me, so I just took advantage of that,” Bell said.
The game was even at 37 4:56 into the third quarter, but Ohio State catapulted itself to a comfortable victory in 40-10 fashion over the remaining 15:04.
Bell was a key factor in pulling the Buckeyes away, scoring the final nine points in the third quarter to push their advantage to 51-37.
McGuff said Bell’s shot selection and ability to impact the game through rebounding and defense were key.
Ohio State’s defense held the Illini without a bucket for over five minutes during the run.
“When our defense is good, it seems to fuel everything else,” McGuff said. “We seem to make enough plays on offense when our defense is setting it up.”
Illinois junior guard Petra Holesínská, the team’s leading scorer, failed to score a point in the first half, and recorded just six for the game. The 3-point specialist shot just 1-for-6 from deep.
“She’s a great player and a great shooter,” McGuff said. “It was a big part of the game plan to contest her shots.”
Illinois senior forward Ali Andrews provided the best output for the Illini with a team-high 14 points on 4-for-7 shooting from 3.
Illinois freshman forward Kennedi Myles put up her sixth double-double of the season. The Ohio native had 12 points to go along with her 11 rebounds.
The Buckeye bench outscored the Illini bench 46-24 Sunday. Freshman forward Rebeka Mikulásiková’s scored 12 points to accompany Bell’s 19.
Freshman guard Kaelynn Satterfield added nine points and five rebounds of her own off of the bench in the final quarter.
“She was about to have a double-double in six minutes,” Bell said, “She was legendary out there.”
The Buckeyes continued their 3-point shooting surge as they shot a blistering 50 percent from deep.
“We’re starting to see the  go in a little more and I think we’re gaining confidence,” McGuff said.
The Buckeyes are still searching for consistency as they trudge through Big Ten play. They fell against Michigan State 68-65 in their previous contest.
“We’re not being consistent,” Bell said. “We keep losing games then winning games, so we need to go on a run and string a few wins together.”
Ohio State is back in action at 8 p.m. Thursday when it heads to Iowa City to take on No. 22 Iowa.