Dec. 31, 2015
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Kelsey Mitchell scored 25 points – 15 in the fourth quarter – and Ameryst Alston added 23 as No. 9 Ohio State outlasted 22nd-ranked Michigan State 85-80 Thursday at Value City Arena in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
Both teams are now 9-3 on the season as the Buckeyes have won five-straight and the Spartans see their five-game win-streak snapped.
That wasn’t quite how Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff had drawn it up but the Buckeyes found a way down the stretch to pull out a hard-fought 85-80 victory over visiting Michigan State.
The Buckeyes had one of their worst shooting games of the year, shooting just 44 percent from the floor and 2-of-20 from long range. The two three-point field goals were a season-low. But key put-backs in the fourth quarter and 27-of-34 from the free throw line were big for the Buckeyes who have now won five-straight.
Kelsey Mitchell finished with a game-high 25 points with 15 coming in the fourth quarter. She was 0-of-10 from beyond the arc but made up for it from the line, knocking down all 13 of her free throw attempts, including nine in the fourth quarter. Mitchell also dished-out a game-high five assists.
Ameryst Alston kept the Buckeyes in the game as the Spartans had no answer for her on the drive. Alston scored 23 points as all but two of her points came either in the paint or from the line.
Shayla Cooper also stepped-up for the Buckeyes despite battling foul trouble. She recorded her third double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Perhaps the timeliest player of the game for the Buckeyes was sophomore Asia Doss. She made both of the team’s three-point field goals and had a big rebound and put-back with 36 seconds left, giving the Buckeyes an 81-80 lead. Doss finished the game with 10 points and a team-high three offensive rebounds.
MSU’s All-American candidate Aerial Powers lived-up to her billing as she scored 23 points and pulled-down a game-high 15 rebounds. She also had a pair of blocks and two assists. Jasmine Hines was a force inside, finishing with 18 points but it was her technical foul with just under four minutes to play that helped swing the tide towards the Buckeyes. Hines later fouled-out with two minutes to play.
A large part of the story Thursday was foul trouble. Both teams struggled to find the right lineups as each dealt with its own foul issues. Four Spartans, including three starters, ended up fouling out and missing the end of the game. Buckeye Alexa Hart also checked-out early with five fouls and Cooper played most of the fourth quarter with four fouls. As a team, Michigan State was whistled for 30 personal fouls and the Buckeyes would convert 27 of 34 attempts from the line.
Despite the foul trouble, the Spartans led for the majority of the fourth quarter after out-scoring Ohio State 22-14 in the third. The Buckeyes tied the game with less than three minutes left but MSU retook the lead on a pair of free throws by Hines. It wasn’t until Doss’ put-back with 36 seconds left that the Buckeyes were able to take the lead for good.
On the ensuing Michigan State possession, Spartan Branndais Agee drove to the hole and was called for a charge with 17 seconds remaining as senior Cait Craft stepped-in front for the Buckeyes’ lone charge drawn of the day. Mitchell then made four free throws in the final 16 seconds to seal the win.
Ameryst Alston (OSU) – 23 points, 4 rebounds
Kelsey Mitchell (OSU) – 25 points, 13-13 free throws
Shayla Cooper (OSU) – 17 points, 10 rebounds, 3rd double-double this season
Aerial Powers (MSU) – 23 points, 15 rebounds
Ohio State Individual Notes
No time to celebrate as the Buckeyes hit the road tomorrow for a game on Saturday afternoon at defending B1G Champion Maryland. Tip-off from the XFINITY Center is set for Noon ET and the game will be televised on CBS.