Kelsey Mitchell and Ohio State opened up their season in dominant fashion, routing a fellow Top 10 team.
Mitchell scored 30 points and Stephanie Mavunga added 17 points and a career-high 26 rebounds to help No. 5 Ohio State to an 85-64 win over 10th-ranked Stanford on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
Leading 46-40 entering the second half, Ohio State dominated the pace of play in the third quarter, outscoring the Cardinal 24-14, despite shooting just 6 of 22 from the field in the quarter. The Buckeyes made 11-of-13 free throws in the period.
“Each player on our team can do something special and I think that showed,” Mitchell said. “And I think we can only get better from here.”
In the fourth, Mitchell put Ohio State up 21 with a 3-pointer at 8:03 remaining. The basket moved her into second on the Buckeyes’ all-time scoring list with 2,583 points.
Brittany McPhee scored 24 points to lead Stanford.
Ohio State controlled the glass for four quarters, grabbing 64 rebounds compared to 41 for Stanford. Mavunga bested her previous career-high of 17 rebounds with 21 seconds remaining in the third quarter. She had 14 of Ohio State’s 28 offensive rebounds. Stanford tallied nine offensive rebounds.
Returning just two starters from last season, Stanford struggled to find scoring against an Ohio State defense that ranked 313th in total defense last season. The Cardinal shot 37 percent from the field compared to Ohio State’s 35 percent, but turned the ball over 15 times and had 19 fewer shots.
No other players were in double figures for Stanford.
The Cardinal’s 39-year head coach Tara VanDerveer is coming off her 12th Final Four appearance with Stanford, however she knew the beginning of the season would be a challenge for her team. Alanna Smith, Marta Sniezek and Alexa Romano had combined for just 12 starts before starting Friday’s game against the reigning Big Ten champions that returned four starters, including a national player of the year candidate in Mitchell.
“This is baptism by fire and they have to realize this is what I need to be doing in there,” VanDerveer said.
Mitchell’s 30 points were the 21st-such game of her four-year career, but the story of the night was Mavugna. Her post presence changed the entire complexion of the game and mitigated a rather inefficient night for the Buckeyes from the field.
“That’s something I feel like I can control,” Mavunga said. “I can’t control getting the ball or finishing my shots, or things like that. I can’t worry about that. What I can control and helping my teammates if I’m not doing anything else is rebound the ball.”
Ohio State guard Linnae Harper also had a double-double, with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
VanDerveer mentioned Stanford’s trial by fire with a game against top-ranked Connecticut on Sunday, however she’s viewing these first two games as lessons for her team.
“We’re taking a beating, but I personally think it will be better for our team in the long run to play Ohio State, to play Connecticut instead of playing maybe some other people that you’re able to beat,” she said. “But are you going to learn, are you going to grow?”
STANFORD MEN 78, CAL POLY 62
Reid Travis scored a game-high 26 points and had 12 rebounds and Stanford won its eighth straight season opener, beating Cal Poly 78-62 on Friday night.