Mitchell Stands Atop B1G History

By Jeff Rapp, January 29th, 2018

There have been countless standouts in the sport of college basketball in the decades-long history of the Big Ten Conference. Some of the most prolific scorers in the game once dominated the Big Ten, a long list including the likes of Indiana’s Calbert Cheaney, Michigan’s Glen Rice and Purdue’s Rick Mount on the men’s side along with Penn State’s Kelly Mazzante, Minnesota’s Rachel Banham and Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender among the prominent women performers.

But now there is one true all-time scoring leader, male or female, atop the list of the Big Ten’s best: Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell.

Playing before a spirited home crowd, the dynamic 5-8 lefty entered a key contest with Michigan State on Saturday just 18 points behind Banham’s all-time Big Ten scoring record of 3,093 points. Late in the third period, Mitchell had 15 points, four fouls and the Buckeyes were in danger of dropping their fourth straight conference game.

However, on cue, Mitchell led a torrid fourth-period attack as the Buckeyes canned 12 of 14 shots in the frame and pulled away for a much needed 78-62 win over the Spartans. The victory snapped a three-game losing skein as well as a three-game losing run against the Green and White.

In addition, Mitchell finished with a game-high 23 points. As for the historical basket, it came from behind the three-point arc. In fact, Mitchell hit back-to-back threes in a 17-second spurt to not only eclipse the mark but help the Buckeyes shove the lead out to 20 points with just over two minutes remaining.

She now has amassed 3,098 career points, which ranks seventh all-time in NCAA history. Mitchell is highly unlikely to reach the summit attained by another Kelsey – Washington guard Kelsey Plum – last year. Plum finished her four years at UW with an incredible 3,527 points.

However, Mitchell still has Jerica Coley (3,107 points), Lorri Bauman of Drake (3,115) and Patricia Hoskins (3,122) well within her sights. She’s also on pace to surpass former Baylor center Brittney Griner (3,283) for third place on the all-time list. Former Southwest Missouri State guard Jackie Stiles (3,393) sits second all-time.

The Buckeyes currently are 17-5 overall and 6-3 in the Big Ten. They have eight regular-season games remaining, including an out-of-conference date with South Florida. Of course, Buckeyes followers are hoping for a long postseason run as well, especially considering this year’s Final Four will be staged in downtown Columbus at Nationwide Arena.

A product of Cincinnati, Mitchell has made 81 threes in 22 games and is averaging 24.8 points per game. Her shooting percentages on the season are 44.8 percent from the field, 38.9 from three-point range and 86.5 from the free-throw line.

She also continues to lead from the point and produce in other ways. Against MSU, she added four rebounds, three assists and two steals to her 23 points. On the season, she is averaging 4.3 assists per game – proof that she isn’t solely about “getting hers.”

If the Buckeyes are going to get back on track for a Big Ten title, Mitchell will need plenty of help. In the win over Sparty, she got it.

Guard Linnae Harper, in fact, was outstanding. She connected on 10 of 14 shots from the floor and finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds five assists and a season-high tying five steals. Center Stephanie Mavunga nearly matched her as she was 8 of 10 shooting for 20 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.

Jenna Allen led three Spartans in double-figures with 16 points but the Spartans shot just 37.3 percent from the field.

The Buckeyes also struggled for much of the outing until the blazing-hot fourth quarter.

MSU would get to as close as two points early in that fateful period, causing head coach Kevin McGuff to reinsert Mitchell with her four fouls. Moments later, the Buckeyes had control and an eventual victory – and OSU legend Katie Smith was seen on the court after the final horn giving Mitchell a hug of congratulations.

The Buckeyes remain at home next week as they will host Penn State on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m.