COLUMBUS, Ohio — West Virginia was undone by too many turnovers and too much Kelsey Mitchell.
Ohio State’s sophomore guard scored 45 points and the third-seeded Buckeyes forced 27 turnovers during an 88-81 win Sunday in the second round of the NCAA women’s tournament.
Mitchell, who burned West Virginia for 39 points in a game last season, made 11-of-31 from the floor and 18-of-22 at the foul line.
The Mountaineers (25-10), who stalemated Ohio State for a half, got 21 points from Bria Holmes in her final college game.
But the Buckeyes (26-7), playing on their home court, used a 13-3 run late in the third quarter to take command. Mitchell was the driving force.
“It’s hard to guard somebody when they keep coming at you,” said WVU coach Mike Carey. “It puts a lot of pressure on the referee because she comes right at you. I don’t know what you’re supposed to do as a defensive player. I don’t know, just stop? Hopefully they charge, but I don’t know what you’re supposed to do.
“We can’t let people go to the line 22 times. I’m not saying they were bad calls, I’m not saying that. It’s just tough to defend when someone comes straight at you off a drive.”
After West Virginia led 21-15 through the first quarter, Ohio State used a 17-3 spurt to open the second quarter. Still, the Mountaineers nearly took the lead into halftime before Mitchell’s 3-pointer tied it at 39-39.
Tynice Martin finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, and Teana Muldrow tallied 15 points, nine boards and three blocks Jessica Morton scored 12 points to cap her career.
“We got impatient. The first quarter we were advancing the ball and passing it around, spreading it around,” said Carey. “Then all of a sudden we started holding onto the ball too much. When you hold the ball that’s when they’re pretty good. They’re going to try to get you to turn it over. You can’t turn the ball over 27 times against a good team like that.”
Ohio State enjoyed a 40-11 edge in points off turnovers.
The Buckeyes made 26-of-33 free throws, while WVU finished 10-of-13.
Mitchell enjoyed the second-highest point total for a Mountaineers opponent, trailing the 48 that Baylor’s Odyssey Sims scored in 2014.
“She’s obviously very tough to defend,” said Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff. “She’s got speed and quickness and handles the ball like no one in college basketball. West Virginia is a great team, a really good defensive team, but we were able to get in transition and get great spacing to give her opportunities to drive the ball.”
Shania Ray’s six turnovers were a team-high for WVU. Holmes surpassed the 2,000-point mark with a late free throw, but committed five turnovers.
“I think we were just rushing a few things when we should have slowed it down and executed better,” Home said. “We should’ve been more patient, but we weren’t, which led to a lot of the turnovers.
“I mean we like to run too. It was an up-and-down game and it was really anybody’s game from the tip. They like to run, we like to run, so that’s the kind of game we tried to play. It came down to executing on offense and getting defensive stops.”