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Ohio State, Michigan slugfest doesn't disappoint; stars shine

Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell and Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty put on a shooting clinic Saturday afternoon in Columbus, but OSU’s secret weapon remained team basketball

NCAA Womens Basketball: South Carolina at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus, Ohio— Ohio State and Michigan is one of the most followed rivalries in all of sports, and when you focus in on women’s basketball, Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty and OSU’s Kelsey Mitchell live up to that hype.

The two junior guards participated in a shootout in a high-scoring affair Saturday afternoon in Columbus. The Buckeyes came out on top 96-87, but Flaherty and Mitchell were the ones who put on a shooting clinic.

Mitchell, OSU’s leading scorer, rattled off 26 points for the Buckeyes. In the first quarter, Michigan would be up by as many as 10. However, as Mitchell and her teammates began looking to attack the basket, they altered the game in OSU’s favor.

Mitchell was 8-20 from the field, including three three-pointers. And while she asserted her dominance, her teammates are arguably what sealed the deal for the Buckeyes in their only face-off against Michigan this season.

Stephanie Mavunga, Shayla Cooper, Tori McCoy, Linnae Harper and Kiara Lewis also scored in double figures for the Buckeyes in a team-oriented, balanced offensive attack. Nine of the ten players who stepped out onto the hardwood for the Buckeyes scored, and they recorded an impressive 48.1 team field goal percentage. While Mitchell is a full-blown star, their top-25 ranking is due in large part to how well they play together as a team.

When you compare that to Michigan, the Wolverines only had seven players score. Michigan will have to mark an “L” in their win-loss column, but it was a career night for Flaherty, quite literally one for the record books.

She broke a school record for most three-pointers in a single game with 8. The last time a Wolverine hit seven threes was Kate Thompson in January of 2013 against Northwestern. Flaherty also had her highest scoring game of her career with 38 points.

Both OSU and Michigan are forces to be reckoned with, in large part due to their stars. But what sets OSU apart is their ability to play team basketball. All great teams have a superstar, who has an ability to lead in nearly every statistical category on any given night.

But the teams that know how to play together make themselves seemingly unstoppable. Opposing teams essentially have to pick their poison with Ohio State, and ultimately, that will be their key to success for the remainder of the season and into March.