LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kelsey Mitchell and Asia Doss each scored 15 points, Shayla Cooper grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds and Ohio State withstood a late charge from Western Kentucky for a 70-63 victory on Friday in a first-round NCAA Tournament game.
The fifth-seeded Buckeyes (27-6) began to take control just before halftime and followed with timely baskets to keep a safe cushion against the No. 12 seed Hilltoppers. Ohio State eventually stretched a seven-point halftime advantage to 64-48 with 4:38 remaining before Western Kentucky used a 15-5 run to make it a two-possession game.
Doss’ free throw with 18 seconds left sealed the outcome for Ohio State, which advances to Sunday’s second round against No. 4 seed Kentucky. The Wildcats escaped No. 13 seed Belmont 73-70 in the preceding game.
Ohio State improved to 18-6 in first-round NCAA games.
Kendall Noble had 19 points and Tashia Brown 13 for the Hilltoppers (27-7), who had won 12 straight coming in. WKU shot a season-low 29 percent from the field.
THE BIG PICTURE
Western Kentucky: Three-point shooting helped the Hilltoppers lead several times in the first half and stay within range early in the second. But they also had several cold stretches from behind the arc in an attempt to rally and ended up 9 of 37 (24 percent).
Ohio State: The Buckeyes had 21 assists, the second time in three times they’ve had at least 20. Cooper and Doss had six assists each. OSU also had nine blocks and was nearly even with WKU on the boards (44-43). Those numbers were good enough to offset 19 turnovers. … Tory McKoy had 12 points before fouling out.
Ohio State faces Kentucky in the second round on Sunday.