COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Kelsey Mitchell and Ohio State shredded Rutgers’ top-ranked Big Ten defense.
Mitchell scored 31 points and Ameryst Alston added 21 as the fifth-ranked Buckeyes beat Rutgers 90-78 on Sunday.
Ohio State (12-3, 4-0) never trailed, using a strong start defensively and a consistent offensive attack to win for the eighth time in a row and hand the Scarlet Knights (11-5, 2-2) their second loss in their last three games.
”I thought for the most part we played well for a lot of stretches in this game,” Buckeyes coach Kevin McGuff said.
Rutgers entered the game as the No. 1 scoring defense in the Big Ten at 52.7 points per game, but Ohio State eclipsed that before the midway point of the third quarter.
”What’s most disappointing to us is the Scarlet Knights have always been known for their defense,” Stringer said. ”We might be scoring 52 or 53 points, but at the highest level we don’t allow this kind of scoring, and quite frankly our team doesn’t take enough pride in that.”
Ohio Stateheld a 20-10 lead after a first quarter in which it shot 60 percent (9 for 15) from the floor while holding the Scarlet Knights to 21 percent (4 for 19).
The Buckeyes led 43-34 at halftime and used a 13-2 run late in the third quarter to extend the lead to 23.
The Scarlet Knights scored 11 of the first 12 points in the fourth quarter but never were able to get the deficit into single digits.
Alston hit a 3-pointer to end the Rutgers run, and the Buckeyes maintained control the rest of the way.
”A little disappointed we lost some focus and intensity which allowed Rutgers to make a run there,” McGuff said. ”We did a good job of getting it back in control and finishing the right way but when we have a chance to put a team away and we don’t that’s going to come back to haunt us some day this year if we keep doing it.”
Alex Hart added 17 points and eight rebounds for Ohio State.
Tyler Scaife led Rutgers with 27 points while Kahleah Copper added 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Rachel Hollivay had 10 rebounds for the Scarlet Knights, whose coach was not looking for moral victories.
”We made a valiant comeback but it’s always going to be too short,” Stringer said. ”You can’t let a team like that get that kind of lead and expect to do anything.”
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights fell to 0-2 against the Buckeyes since joining the Big Ten last season.
Ohio State: Mitchell entered the game as the nation’s No. 2 scorer (24.6 points per game) and broke the 30-point mark for the third time this season.
Rutgers hosts Illinois on Wednesday.
Ohio State plays at Northwestern on Thursday.
The most points Rutgers had allowed this season came in a 77-49 loss at Seton Hall on Nov. 16. Ohio State reached that total at the 6:31 mark of the fourth quarter on a three-pointer by Alston.
ON THE RUN
Ohio State outscored Rutgers 24-8 in fast-break points.
HARD WORKING KNIGHTS
Rutgers played its third game in seven days. The Scarlet Knights lost 69-65 at Iowa on Monday before beating Wisconsin 61-41 on Thursday.