COLUMBUS, Ohio – Head coach Kevin McGuff and the No. 5 Buckeyes could not have asked for a better way to start the season as they routed No. 10 Stanford 85-64 at St. John Arena Friday night.
The inside-outside combo of seniors Stephanie Mavunga and Kelsey Mitchell will be relied on heavily this year and on Friday, they duo didn’t disappoint. Mavunga scored 17 points and dominated on the glass, grabbing an OSU single-game record 26 rebounds. That passed Mary Sivak’s old mark of 25 which she set in March of 1979. As a team, the Buckeyes out-rebounded the taller Cardinal 64-41 and on the offensive glass, Mavunga had 14 boards compared to just nine total for Stanford.
Admittedly, Mitchell didn’t have her best shooting night but the Cincinnati native still finished with game-highs of 30 points and five rebounds while turning the ball over just once in 36 minutes. Her 30 points pushed her past OSU legend Katie Smith into second place on the career scoring chart. Mitchell now has 2,583 career points.
Fellow senior Linnae Harper also had a great opening performance, notching her 11th career double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Sierra Calhoun also finished with 15 points and tied a career-high with two blocks.
The Buckeyes shot just 34.5 percent from the floor but grabbed a total of 28 offensive rebounds. That led to 32 second chance points while Stanford had just two. That was the telling stat in the game.
Stanford’s Brittany McPhee was the only Cardinal to score in double-figures with 24 points.
The Buckeyes got hot early and built an eight point lead but Stanford responded with an 8-0 at the end of the opening quarter to even the score. Harper then ended the quarter and the run with her first three-pointer of the season and Ohio State led 27-24 at the end of one.
Ohio State was able to build as much as a nine-point lead in the second quarter thanks to a 5:30 scoring drought for Stanford after it took its final lead of the night at 33-32. After leading by just six at the break, the Buckeyes broke it open with a 12-2 run over the first 4:30 of the third quarter and Stanford never threatened the rest of the night.
The only drama that remained after Mitchell opened the fourth quarter by scoring the Buckeyes’ first nine points was whether Mavunga was going to get the rebound record. She grabbed her 26th and final board with 2:08 to play and left to a standing ovation from the crowd 30 seconds later.
There is no breather for the Buckeyes as they will take on No. 9 Louisville this Sunday as part of the Countdown to Columbus at Nationwide Arena, site of the Women’s Final Four next spring. The game is set to tip-off at 4 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.
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