It was quite the homecoming for Ohio State senior forward Stephanie Mavunga.
Not only were her parents in attendance but her brother Julian, who plays professional basketball overseas, saw her play of the first time in college.
Mavunga, the 2013 Indiana Miss Basketball from Brownsburg, Ind., had 20 points and 18 rebounds to lead No. 10 Ohio State to a 77-62 victory over Indiana on Saturday.
“It was fantastic, seeing all my friends and family was an indescribable feeling for sure,” she said. “It was great to have them all in my ear.”
Linnae Harper chipped in with 19 points and Kelsey Mitchell added 15 points for the Buckeyes (16-2, 5-0 Big Ten).
“[Mavunga] got off to a great start and she played really hard [Saturday],” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “She was very efficient. She had a great game.”
The Buckeyes won their ninth consecutive game and are the only unbeaten team in the conference. Ohio State has won 12 in a row against the Hoosiers, including an 85-70 home win on Dec. 31.
Jaelynn Penn scored 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting to lead the Hoosiers (8-11, 1-5). Amanda Cahill had 15 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Tyra Buss, who averages a team-leading 20.4 points, had just 10 on 4-of-14 shooting. She had only two at the half.
“[Buss] is an unbelievable player and we expended a lot of energy on her,” McGuff said. “We make her work for everything she got, so I think we wore her down a little bit.”
The Buckeyes expanded the 16-point halftime lead to 18 points twice before settling for a 61-49 advantage after three quarters. Indiana had trimmed the deficit to seven points at 56-49 on a 3-pointer by Buss with 1:31 left in the quarter, but Ohio State finished the period with five unanswered points by Harper. McGuff had called a timeout after IU cut it to seven.
“He was frustrated,” Mavunga said. “He’s passionate and he knows we can do better that. We weren’t executing, that was bad on our part but we turned it around.”
Indiana never got closer than 10 points in the fourth quarter.
“I knew Indiana would play well, they’ve been playing very good of late,” McGuff said. “We had some great stretches and didn’t sustain it for as long as I’d like.”
Mitchell, Ohio State’s all-time leading scorer became the 13th player to score 3,000 points in NCAA history. She needed just two points for the milestone entering the game and sank her first basket with her 6:17 left in the second quarter.
IU committed 23 turnovers, eight more than the Buckeyes.
“Obviously our issue was the turnovers,” Hoosiers coach Teri Moren said. “They had 22 points off our turnovers.”
Ohio State: Buckeyes got out to a 9-0 start, including first seven by Mavunga,
Indiana: The Hoosiers were 4 of 11 from the free throw line while the Buckeyes were 16 of 22.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes started the Big Ten 5-0 for the ninth time in school history. The last time they did it was in the 2009-10 season. Ohio State entered the game third in the NCAA in scoring average at 89.1.
Indiana: Buss, who became the school’s all-time leading scorer against Penn State, needs 22 points to reach 2,000 points.
THEY SAID IT
Ohio State: “Linnae righted the ship and we went from there,” McGuff said of her five unanswered points to boost the Buckeyes lead to 61-49 at the end of the third quarter.
Indiana: “I really felt like this is game we could have won and had some positive takeaways. I’m just waiting for this group to collectively have one of those nights like they did against Purdue, where they all show up,” Moren said.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes will host No. 23 Michigan on Tuesday night
Indiana: It doesn’t get any easier for the Hoosiers, who will play at No. 11 Maryland on Tuesday night.