Ohio State finally broke into the win column in Big Ten women’s basketball play with a 68-45 victory over Indiana on Thursday night.
After a sluggish start, Ohio State controlled the last nine minutes of the first half then put the game away by dominating the start of the second in front of 3,561 fans at Value City Arena in Columbus.
Ohio State went from three points down to three ahead with a 6-0 mini-run that included a layup by Ameryst Alston and four points by Darryce Moore, who twice split a pair of free throws and added a layup to close it out.
The last basket made it 20-17 with 4:57 to go and came on a slick pass inside from Raven Ferguson.
Andrew Newbauer stopped the run with a layup for the Hoosiers, but the Buckeyes scored 10 of the last 14 points in the half to take a 30-24 lead into the locker room.
Hill, who had three free throws and a fastbreak layup in the final spurt, led all scorers with nine points in the first half despite still feeling the effects of an illness that prevented her from playing in the Buckeyes’ 82-75 loss at Purdue on Monday. Moore and fellow forward Aleksandra Dobranic added six while Alston and center Ashley Adams had four.
Guard Jasmine McGhee, whose trey had staked the Hoosiers to their 17-14 lead before the Buckeyes lurched ahead, led Indiana with seven points in the first half. IU star forward Aulani Sinclair added five but struggled from the field, missing nine of 11 shots in the first half.
After struggling early with Indiana’s zone defense, Ohio State began to pound the ball inside and reaped the benefits with 17 free throw attempts, of which they collectively made 12.
The Hoosiers were whistled for 11 fouls in the first half and did not go to the charity stripe.
Ohio State held the visitors to 34.4 percent shooting (11 for 32) in the first half while connecting at a 42.9 percent (9 for 21) rate.
First-year Indiana head coach Curt Miller, who spent 12 years as head coach at Bowling Green before taking over the Hoosier program, said he felt good about his team’s position down only six points at the half, but that did not last long.
The Buckeyes came out of the locker room energized and quickly added to their lead, outscoring the Hoosiers 17-6 in the first seven minutes of the second half to open up a 47-30 advantage.
Moore and Adams did the bulk of the damage with six and four points during the sequence. Alston added a three-pointer, and Ferguson and Dobranic had two points apiece.
“During halftime we just talked about needing to bring energy in the second half,” Moore said. “I know the first half was slow. We said, ‘Just play together, play like you want to play.’ ”
Indiana would not get closer than 14 the rest of the way, and Ohio State’s lead reached its peak on a three-pointer by Hill that made it 62-37 with 4:31 to go.
Hill led the Buckeyes in scoring with 15 points while Moore continued a recent hot streak by tallying 14 points, her fourth consecutive game scoring in double figures.
Adams and Dobranic also had 10 apiece, and Ohio State head coach Jim Foster was happy to see three post players among his four players to score in double figures.
“In the beginning of the second half the ball was popping,” he said. “When the ball moves, we’re very hard to guard. We’re starting to understand where we can get baskets.”
McGee made 8 of 13 shots from the field and led Indiana (10-7, 1-3) with 17 points.
Sinclair, who entered the game fourth in the Big Ten with an average of 19.4 points per game, managed only five. She was 2 for 15 from the field with four rebounds and four turnovers.
Miller saw a difference in the Buckeyes (11-7, 1-4) when the switched from a 1-3-1 zone to man-to-man defense about 10 minutes into the game.
“When they went man Tayler’s length and athleticism bothered Aulani,” Miller said. “She does a really good job of battling through screens without a lot of help.”
“We were genuinely energized at halftime then in the first two minutes of the second half we had three turnovers. Our transition defense lacked and they picked up the tempo. We started hurting ourselves and then the game got away from us, which is very easy this year because we don’t have a lot of offensive firepower.”
The Buckeyes, who brought to an end their worst start ever in conference play, return to action Sunday at Wisconsin.