COLUMBUS — Taylor Mikesell and Rebeka Mikulasikova each scored 18 points and No. 2 Ohio State beat Northwestern 84-54 on Thursday night to push its program-best, season-opening winning streak to 19 games.
The Buckeyes (19-0, 8-0 Big Ten) led wire to wire and closed the first quarter on a 10-1 run, with eight of the points from Mikesell. Ohio State led by 38 points in the fourth quarter and didn’t allow Northwestern (6-12, 0-8) to come closer than nine points after the first two minutes of the second quarter.
“This could have been a real problem for us, had we not shown up with the focus and energy needed to play the game the right way,” said Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff, a Hamilton native and 1988 Badin grad. “I credit our leadership, our upperclassmen, just making sure the team was ready.”
Ohio State held a 14-point halftime advantage and pulled away after scoring a game-best 27 points in the third quarter. Mikesell scored 15 of her points in the first half and had three steals. Centerville’s Cotie McMahon, a 6-foot freshman, added 11 points for the Buckeyes.
“Third quarter, they just went on a couple runs and we didn’t do a very good job of getting back on defense or off a turnover, and our shot selection became a problem,” Northwestern coach Joe McKeown said.
Paige Mott scored a career-high 16 points for Northwestern. Caroline Lau added 13 points.
Amid a shooting lull from midway through the first quarter to 7:17 left in the second, Ohio State went 5 of 18.
Ohio State’s 9-8 lead in the first quarter advanced to 21-12 with over eight minutes until halftime before ballooning in the third quarter. Bristow led the team with 16 minutes in the second half and recorded five points in that span.
“I think our effort was really high and at points our execution was really good,” Bristow said. “I just think when we get into droughts of scoring, and our defense, we stick together. We just really talk to each other, and coach McGuff is there to push us, so I think staying together and our effort was the key to the win.”
A TOUGH ROAD AHEAD
Ohio State’s next two games will come against Top 10 conference foes No. 10 Iowa at home Monday and on the road at No. 6 Indiana next Thursday.
Having beaten four ranked teams this season, starting with then-No. 5 Tennessee in the opener last November, the Buckeyes are taking each day as they come and remain one of three unbeaten teams across the NCAA.
“One game at a time and practice,” Bristow said. “We’re focused on Monday next and then it’ll be Thursday and then it’ll be the next day after that.”
Iowa at Ohio State, 7 p.m., ESPN2