- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 9, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio State made its case a changing of the guard could take place in Big Ten women’s basketball this season as the seventh-ranked Buckeyes beat No. 5 Maryland 94-86 on Monday night.

Fittingly, Ohio State guards Kelsey Mitchell and Ameryst Alston led the way.

Mitchell had 33 points and Alston scored 22 for the Buckeyes (19-4, 11-1), who never trailed and took sole possession of the top spot in the Big Ten standings from the defending champion Terrapins (21-3, 10-2).

“Obviously Ohio State was terrific tonight,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “They came out ready to play from the tip and they played a really inspired 40 minutes.

“Mitchell, Alston we obviously had no answer for. Terrific guards that really put their team on their back.”

Maryland did not lose a game to a Big Ten opponent last season, when the Terrapins won the conference regular season and tournament titles in their first year as members.

Including the postseason, the Terrapins are 31-2 against conference foes since the start of last season with two of those wins and both losses against Ohio State.

Alexa Hart added 17 and Shayla Cooper had 11 for Ohio State. The two forwards found more room to operate inside after the Buckeyes went 8 for 12 from 3-point range in the first half.

Mitchell saw the Buckeyes opening up space offensively by pushing the tempo from the opening tip.

“We put big emphasis on keeping a high pace,” Mitchell said. “I think (Ohio State coach Kevin) McGuff told us that’s one of our advantages, to push the ball up the floor. As long as we can keep a good pace we can try to get them tired, especially since they’ve got great bigs inside. You’ve got to try to get them tired.”

Forward Brionna Jones led Maryland with 28 points while Tierney Pfirman had 16 and guards Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Kristen Confroy had 14 and 13, respectively.

Ohio State opened up a 24-14 lead in the first eight minutes thanks mostly to hot shooting from Alston, who had 11 points in the first quarter and all three of her 3-pointers.

The Buckeyes took a 47-40 lead into the locker room at halftime and stretched that advantage to as many as 18 in the third quarter.

“I thought we played a heck of a game,” McGuff said. “Our effort and our intensity were sustained for 40 minutes, especially defensively.”

His team forced 23 turnovers it turned into 27 points.

“Overall probably our best game to date just because Maryland is so good,” McGuff said. “I’ve got great respect for their talent and their coaching.”

As for taking control of the league, he deferred.

“We should certainly enjoy this tonight, but we won one game tonight, against Maryland,” McGuff said. “The most important thing is next we have to go to Iowa.”

TIP-INS

Maryland: The Terrapins started three players from Ohio: Malina Howard of Twinsburg, Confroy of Solon and Chloe Pavlech of Cincinnati Sycamore.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes ran their winning streak to seven games.

STATLINES

Maryland dominated the glass, finishing with a 47-31 rebounding edge and an 18-5 advantage in points in the paint.

DIALING LONG DISTANCE

Mitchell and Alston made four 3-pointers apiece, part of a sizzling night for the Buckeyes from beyond the arc. Ohio State made 12 of 23 from behind the arc.

UP NEXT

Maryland plays host to Purdue on Thursday night.

Ohio State plays at Iowa on Thursday night.

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