- Associated Press - Monday, November 16, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff challenged his Buckeyes in their first two games, playing the top two teams in the country.

Despite losing both contests, including a 100-56 rout by No. 1 UConn on Monday night, McGuff hopes his team will learn from the defeats.

“One of two things is going to happen,” he said. “We’re going to sit around and sulk and pout about it, or we’re going to say that’s where we are and see where we need to get better and we’re going to improve.”

Monday’s loss, in front of 11,435 fans, came after the Buckeyes fell to No. 2 South Carolina by eight on Friday.

All-American guard Kelsey Mitchell, who had 36 points against South Carolina and last season became the first freshman to lead the nation in scoring with a 24.9 average, picked up two fouls in the opening minutes.

Mitchell had eight points on 2 of 14 shooting from the floor.

“She didn’t have a great night but they did a great job defending her,” McGuff said.

Ohio State (0-2) trailed by three with just over two minutes left in the first quarter before the Huskies took over.

“Some of the adversity we didn’t react that well to,” McGuff said. “That’s where we really need to get better.”

At one point of the second period the Huskies hit eight straight field goals and 10 of 11 and led 50-24 at the half.

“We got our (rear) kicked tonight,” McGuff said. “They were coached better. They played better. They were more prepared. They deserved to win by the margin they did.”

UConn (1-0) returns four starters from its championship game win against Notre Dame on April 7 led the way against Ohio State.

Breanna Stewart had 24 points, Moriah Jefferson 21, Kia Nurse 16 and Morgan Tuck 15. Also, new starter Gabby Williams had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

“They should be able to look like they’ve played together awhile because they have played together awhile,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.

Shayla Cooper led Ohio State with 17 points. While disappointed with the defeats, she’s ready to move on.

“The positive thing is we have film of these games,” she said. “We can watch what we did and learn from it and make us a better team.”


UConn: The teams have met three times and the Huskies have been ranked first in all. They won the previous games 81-50 in 2010 and 70-49 in 2013. UConn is 48-10 against top 10 teams since the start of the 2008-09 season.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes lost their home opener for the first time in 17 games, back to a 92-84 loss to Kentucky in 1998. Ohio State is 2-16 against Associated Press No. 1 teams with both victories coming in the 1987-88 season.


McGuff is in his third season at Ohio State and is rebuilding the program in manner that Auriemma appreciates. He lauded McGuff for scheduling UConn twice already. “He’s a competitive guy. That’s how you build a program,” Auriemma said. “That’s what I told him, ‘Kevin. There’s no losers tonight. You’re fans are going to get a chance to see you win and beat one of the best teams in the country or they’re going to see one of the best teams in the country and go, yea, that’s what Kevin wants to do here.’ “


UConn: The Huskies play their first home game Nov. 23 vs. Kansas State.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes host Belmont on Thursday.

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