COLUMBUS -- The University at Buffalo came out with a fast start, but Ohio State found its groove in transition and on the perimeter to earn the 88-69 win in the first round of the NCAA tournament at St. John's Arena Friday.
Buffalo came out with no fear, attacking the rim and running its offense. An inside bucket from Cassie Oursler and a three-pointer from Joanna Smith gave the Bulls a 5-0 start.
But then Ohio State starting running. The Buckeyes kicked up the tempo and suddenly back-to-back three-pointers from Asia Doss tied the game, 11-11, with 3:27 left in the first quarter. By the end of the first period, the Buckeyes turned an 11-8 deficit into a 30-12 lead.
The Bulls got back to their game in the second quarter -- running their offense in a half-court set rather than trying to run and gun with Ohio State. Still the Buckeyes shot 54.3 percent from the field in the first half, including hitting 6 of 12 from three-point range, opening up a 48-23 halftime lead.
Buffalo kept its focus and intensity in the second half, putting up 21 points in the third quarter. But Ohio State's offense continued to roll on, and the Buckeye's lead was never in danger.
Pouring on the points: The high-scoring, high-pace game of Ohio State was no surprise. The Buckeyes entered the game ranked third in the country in scoring at 86.7 ppg. Ohio State finished with three players in double-figures led by Kelsey Mitchell's 27. Shayla Cooper scored 17 with Asia Doss finishing with 16.
20-point effort: Joanna Smith finished with 23 points to lead the Bulls. It was her 16th 20-point game of the season. Courtney Wilkins finished with 14 points off the bench for the Bulls including hitting four three-pointers.
So. No Ameryst Alston: The Buckeyes senior guard and second leading scorer was questionable for the game with a wrist injury she sustained in the Big Ten tournament. While she was listed as a probable starter, she did not play in the game for Ohio State.
In the Buckeye State: Ohio has become familiar territory for the Bulls. Their matchup with Ohio State was the 10th game they’ve played in the state and their eighth against an in-state opponent. Including the Mid-American Conference tournament and the NCAA first-round game, the Bulls went 6-4 in Ohio this season.
The 14th seed: Magical NCAA tournament runs are historically less likely on the women’s side then the men’s side of the basketball bracket. Heading into Friday’s opening round games, the 14th seed was 0-84 all-time against the No. 3 seed in the women’s NCAA tournament.
St. John’s Arena: The games were held in St. John’s Arena – the “old” arena at Ohio State. The home of both men’s and women’s basketball, the 18,000-seat Schottenstein Center, was already in use for the Ohio High School Athletic Association boys tournament. That pushed the women’s NCAA tourney games into the 13,000 seat St. John’s Arena. It is the permanent home of Ohio State’s wrestling, gymnastics and volleyball teams.
Up next: Buffalo ends its season at 20-14. Third-seeded Ohio State (25-7) advances to the second round and will host No. 6 West Virginia on Sunday. The Mountaineers defeated Princeton, 74-65, in the first game of the day at St. John's Arena. Buffalo native Lester Rowe is in his fifth season as an assistant with West Virginia.