- Associated Press - Saturday, November 19, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said his team accomplished what it set out to do Saturday in a blowout win over less-talented NIU Brooklyn: The Buckeyes improved.

Sierra Calhoun scored 22 points and Kelsey Mitchell added 21 as No. 7 Ohio State routed the Northeast Conference team 113-54.

“Obviously, today was going to be more about us, and how we handled this game and this situation,” McGuff said. “Because we’re really trying to focus on ourselves and getting better, and we did that. If we were going make it about the score or something like that, then we were going to get distracted and caught up in some things that we shouldn’t be doing.”

The more aggressive Buckeyes had 18 steals and with a size advantage inside, outrebounded the Blackbirds 56 to 30.

Makayla Waterman added 15 points and nine rebounds for Ohio State, and Kiara Lewis had 12 points. Tori McCoy had nine points and 12 rebounds.

“I think we played good as a team,” Calhoun said. “I felt like the ball was moving a lot more than it normally does. I feel like we’re getting better as a team gradually as the games go on.”

Drew Winter led LIU Brooklyn with 12 points, and Brianna Farris Drew had 10. The Blackbirds are winless in their first three starts.

Mitchell, an All-American and arguably the Big Ten’s best player, was her usual hot-shooting self, going 8 for 11 from the floor, hitting four 3-pointers and dishing five assists.

With a front-court size advantage of a couple inches, Ohio State (3-1) dominated under the basket, logging 62 points in the paint compared with zero by the Blackbirds. Ohio State shot 50.4 percent from the floor, while LIU Brooklyn made just 31.5 percent of its shots.

Ohio State’s 11-0 run to begin the game set the tone. The Buckeyes led 32-8 after the first period on the strength of Duke transfer Calhoun’s 5 for 5 shooting from beyond the arc. The Blackbirds played better in the second period but still trailed 59-20 at the half. Ohio State led by 53 after three quarters.

“My team did a great job of finding me after they saw I was hitting all those 3s,” Calhoun said. “Once that first shot goes in your confidence goes up, and I just kept shooting.”

LIU Brooklyn coach Stephanie Oliver said there were bright spots for her team.

“It prepared us for our conference,” she said. “Look, we can score 54 points on a good basketball team. Our out-of-bounds plays work, our offense works. If we can execute against them and get better against them, it’s really going to help us down the line.”

BIG PICTURE

LIU Brooklyn: After their third straight loss by double-digits to open the season, the Blackbirds have much room for improvement.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes’ lighter preconference schedule continues, giving them a chance to work out the bugs before the tougher games begin. They did what they were supposed to do against a less-talented team.

“Playing teams like this helps us out executing plays, doing the little things, making nice passes, posting up well,” McCoy said. “It was a learning experience for all of us.”

INJURY REPORT

Ohio State forward Stephanie Mavunga got the day off because of what McGuff described as “general soreness.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Ohio State likely will stay put at or around No. 7.

UP NEXT

LIU Brooklyn: Plays University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Friday night at the TD Bank Classic in Burlington, Vermont.

Ohio State: Travels to Fort Myers to play Florida Gulf Coast.

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Follow Mitch Stacy at https://twitter.com/mitchstacy

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