- Associated Press - Sunday, December 4, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Turning to the leading scorer and overall driving force on a team is always a smart move when struggling, and Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff did just that.

Kelsey Mitchell scored 23 points and No. 9 Ohio State went on a 22-0 run in the third quarter in an 80-38 victory over Cincinnati on Sunday.

The 5-foot-8 guard helped spark the run with the Buckeyes (6-3) trailing 28-27 with 3 minutes left in the first half. She finished 7 for 11, with four baskets from 3-point range.

Early on, Ohio State appeared sluggish, and struggled to make shots.

“We just didn’t have a lot of energy,” McGuff said. “We looked like we were a little tight coming off of two loses. Just had to get our mojo back and get our confidence back going.”

Shanice Johnson led the Bearcats (6-2) with 10 points and 17 rebounds, and Ana Owens added nine points.

Cincinnati held Ohio State to 9-of-34 shooting in the first half, while the Buckeyes missed their first seven shots. The Bearcats led by as many as 11 in the first half.

Ohio State ended the first half on a 10-0 run to bring the game to within one at the midway point, and continued the streak for 11 more points to earn a 38-28 lead. The biggest downfall for the Bearcats in the second half was on the inside, as Cincinnati picked up just two points in the paint after halftime.

Ohio State outscored the Bearcats 36 to 12 in the paint and held them to 14 of 72 shooting (19.4 percent) overall. The Bearcats went 4 of 32 (12.5 percent) from 3-point range. Alexa Hart picked up 10 points, and pulled down 12 total rebounds, and played 26 minutes in the absence of Stephanie Mavunga.

“(Mavunga’s absence) just gives us an opportunity to go out there and work hard and be effective on the court,” she said.

Cincinnati failed to make a single field goal in the fourth quarter. Overall, the Bearcats were outscored 53-10 in the second half.

Ohio State combined for 42 defensive rebounds, and did not allow second chance opportunities for the Bearcats.

BIG PICTURE

Ohio State: Ohio State was able to attack the hoop and outrebound Cincinnati with the larger lineup, and looked to be unstoppable with Mitchell hitting her marks.

The Buckeyes benefited from another hot night from the guard, and scored more points in the second half than the Bearcats scored all game. The Buckeyes are now 4-2 at home, with nine players registering a score.

Cincinnati: The first ranked team to meet the Bearcats this season proved to be too much. Cincinnati was outscored 53 to 10 in the second half and 29 to 1 in the fourth quarter after holding a lead at halftime. Johnson fell hard with under six minutes left and was removed from the game when two Ohio State players fell on her upper body and head. She is the team’s leading scorer and did not return.

MCGUFF MAKES BIG ADJUSTMENTS

“I thought we just settled for too many three’s early in the game,” McGuff said. “In the second half, we started to get a little more balanced. We attacked the zone in the middle, and we were able to get the ball in the basket.”

The move from outside to under the rim allowed big point totals for Ohio State, and eventually opened up the long ball from Mitchell, who ended the game 4 of 6 from deep.

UP NEXT

Ohio State: Host Southern University on Wednesday night

Cincinnati: Host Xavier on Dec. 11.


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