COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff isn’t worried about his All-American guard Kelsey Mitchell, who scored just 11 points in the No. 3 seed Buckeyes’ rout of George Washington in an women’s NCAA Tournament opener on Saturday.
He knows Mitchell, who averages 24.5 points a game, will put up the big numbers when necessary against tougher opponents in the tournament. Against No. 14 George Washington, Mitchell played a support role for others, including Stephanie Mavunga, who led all scorers with 22 points in the 87-45 win.
McGuff called the game an ”anomaly” for Mitchell.
”I thought she did a really good job putting other people in a position to score,” McGuff said. ”She had seven assists and played really efficiently that way. That’s the thing that makes her special. She’s capable of putting up 30 points on a given night or she can help other people score. Her field goal percentage today was just shy of 56 percent, so I think a lot of that had to do with Kelsey really orchestrating the offense for us.”
The Buckeyes advance in the tournament to play Central Michigan on Monday night after the Chippewas upset Louisiana State in the first game Saturday.
Alexa Hart added 12 points for the Buckeyes (28-6), who never trailed, took off in the second half and overwhelmed the Colonials (19-10), who had earned a tournament bid by winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Briana Cummings led GW with 14 points, and Neila Luma had 12 before fouling out late in the game. The Colonials shot only 27.3 percent, compared to Ohio State’s 56 percent.
Ohio State jumped ahead on a 10-3 run, but GW managed to tie it at 12 near the end of the first period on 3-pointers from Camila Tapias and Mei-Lyn Bautista. The Buckeyes stretched the lead in the second period, ending the first half with a 12-point lead.
The game got out of hand for the Colonials from there as they missed eight straight shots in a stretch of the third period. The Buckeyes led by 30 after three periods.
George Washington was making its 18th NCAA Tournament appearance.
George Washington: ”Offensively, we knew what was coming,” acknowledged George Washington coach Jennifer Rizzotti.
Ohio State: No big surprise here. The Buckeyes, who won the Big Ten regular season and roared through the conference tournament, are playing their best basketball at the right time.
MAVUNGA STEPS UP
GW freshman forward Nelia Luma said the 6-foot-3 Mavunga was an overwhelming handful for the Colonials.
”She’s really strong and really aggressive, so that was a lot to handle,” Luma said.
”She’s a beast on the glass,” Cummings said.
”We didn’t really have a matchup for her,” Rizzotti said.
McGuff watched No. 11 Central Michigan upset No. 6 LSU in the first game. And he’s wary.
“The thing I liked about Central is that they scored around the basket and scored from the perimeter,” he said. ”They have good balance in their game and that ultimately was the difference between them and LSU. They’re good. We’ll have a real tough matchup.”