COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Coming off consecutive victories over ranked teams, No. 5 Ohio State got off to a slow start in a 97-70 victory over unranked Indiana on Thursday night.
The Buckeyes missed nine of their first 10 shots and trailed 18-10. They rallied to take a 40-35 lead by halftime, but Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff still called his team’s first half ”lackluster.”
”It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t to the level we had been playing,” McGuff said. ”And Indiana played well during that stretch. In the second half I thought we imposed our will on the game a little bit more.”
The Buckeyes (11-3, 4-0 Big Ten) outscored the Hoosiers 27-20 in the third quarter and 30-15 in the fourth.
Kelsey Mitchell and Shayla Cooper each scored 23 points for Ohio State. Alexa Hart added 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Ameryst Alston had 14 points.
Ohio State ran its winning streak to seven games, including an 80-71 triumph at then-No. 6 Maryland on Saturday. Two days earlier, the Buckeyes beat then-No. 24 Michigan State 85-80.
After his team rallied from six down in the third quarter against the Spartans and an eight-point second-quarter deficit against the Terps, McGuff sounded as if he had few doubts the Buckeyes would eventually mount a response to their slow start against the Hoosiers.
”I think we have more confidence,” he said. ”I think that helps. Sometimes when you’re not sure about yourself and you have a slow start it can kind of wear on you, but I do think we have a lot of confidence about how we’re playing.”
Indiana coach Teri Moren had a frank assessment of the game.
”I thought we played a great first half but the game is played in two halves,” Moren said. ”We got outscored seven in the third quarter, but obviously the fourth quarter is what really put us away.
”I thought we lost a little bit of our energy.”
Tyra Buss led Indiana (9-6, 1-2) with 19 points, and Amanda Cahill had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Jenn Anderson added 14 points, and Jess Walter had 11.
Indiana: The Hoosiers fell to 0-3 against ranked teams this season.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes beat Indiana for the ninth time in a row and improved to 31-4 against the Hoosiers in Columbus.
Ohio State had 17 assists and a season-low six turnovers. Their previous low was eight in a 105-76 win at Cincinnati on Dec. 6.
Cahill, a sophomore from the small northern Ohio town of Clyde, had her fourth double-double of the season and the 10th of her career.
Indiana plays at Purdue on Sunday.
Ohio State hosts Rutgers on Sunday.