LINCOLN, Neb. (AP)Rebecca Mikulasikova had 25 points and No. 3 Ohio State opened up an early double-digit lead and beat Nebraska 76-67 Saturday.
Mikulasikova scored from inside and outside while shooting 7 for 15, including 3 of 4 on 3-point attempts.
”I feel like it was missing from me the last couple of games,” she said. ”I was shooting a lot of 3s. I wanted to play a more balanced game inside and out and I feel like I did that.”
It took the Buckeyes (18-0, 7-0 Big Ten) less than five minutes to take control of the game, going up 13-2 on Taylor Thierry’s layup midway through the first quarter.
Nebraska (11-7, 3-4) didn’t get closer than six in the first half. But Sam Haiby scored five of Nebraska’s points in a 7-0 run that cut the Ohio State lead to three with 7:44 left in the third quarter.
Mikulasikova then responded, scoring nine straight as the Buckeyes built the lead back to 12 at the end of the quarter. She then hit a fourth-quarter opening 3-pointer to put Ohio State up 65-52. Nebraska got no closer than 9 on a final minute 3-pointer by Jaz Shelley.
”I knew they would make a run,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. ”I think after our timeout, we calmed down a little bit. We got back to better ball movement and a little more stout defense. And probably most importantly, we rebounded the ball better because they got a lot of offensive rebounds to start.”
Taylor Mikesell had 14 for Ohio State and Thierry had 13 and eight rebounds.
Haiby led Nebraska with 16 points. Alexis Markowski had 15 points and eight rebounds and Isabelle Bourne had 13 points and eight rebounds.
Nebraska coach Amy Williams said the Huskers sealed their fate in the first five minutes of the game.
”I thought we had kind of learned our lesson playing against Michigan here at home a couple of weeks ago that we can’t dig ourselves a hole like that in the first quarter,” she said.
”We have to to get off to great starts, You have to put together 40 minutes in this league against anybody and particularly the No. 3 team in the country. We dug ourselves a hole. it proved to be something that we really couldn’t get over the hump to overcome.”
Ohio State, which leads the nation in turnover margin at 10.4 per game and is fourth in the country in steals at 13.8 per game, didn’t match those season marks Saturday. The Buckeyes forced 12 Nebraska turnovers, but committed 18 themselves and had only six steals.
That, however, didn’t surprise McGuff.
”We didn’t press as much as we normally do,” he said. ”We wanted to just play a little differently today. I thought we could win in the half-court, and I thought for the most part, our defense was pretty good. But we’ve been really riding these kids hard. So we wanted to just not press as much today, just to save their legs a little bit.”
Ohio State: The Buckeyes return home to face Northwestern Thursday.
Nebraska: The Huskers play at Purdue on Wednesday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25