The first full weekend of Big Ten women’s basketball was in full swing with only three of 14 schools taking a loss.
The weekend was filled with mostly blowouts as the season is in its infancy. However, there were a few marquee matchups that lived up to the hype.
No. 9 Louisville traveled to Columbus, Ohio to take on No. 5 Ohio State — the preseason favorite to win the conference for the third consecutive season.
The Cardinals overmatched the Buckeyes for much of the game, leading by 14 points at one point in the third quarter. However, Ohio State battled back thanks in part to a huge fourth quarter by Kelsey Mitchell — the Big Ten’s Preseason Player of the Year —l who dropped 15 of her 26 points in the fourth, including the Buckeye’s final nine points to tie the Cardinals. She sent the game into overtime with five seconds left on a free throw. No matter, Asia Durr could not be stopped the entire game, and that included the overtime. She tallied 13 points in the extra period to deliver the important non-conference road win for Louisville. She finished with a career-high 47 points in the 95-90 Louisville win.
Ohio State earned its first win of the season two days prior with an 85-64 win against No. 10 Stanford.
The other high-profile matchup pitted No. 15 Maryland against the defending National Champions, No. 4 South Carolina. Maryland was selected to finish second in the Big Ten this year behind Ohio State.
The Terrapins had to battle back from large deficits at a couple points in Monday’s affair, including when the Gamecocks were dominating with a 71-45 lead with 2:20 left in the third quarter. However, sophomore guard Kaila Charles caught fire in the second half to give Maryland a fighting chance. She scored a career-high 31 points, with 27 of those coming in the second half, and 19 came in the fourth quarter to cut the Gamecocks’ lead down to 86-80. Maryland came got within three points before the Dawn Staley-led Gamecocks pulled out the 94-86 win.
The No. 24 Michigan Wolverines picked up two wins in the Preseason WNIT, including a 75-61 victory against George Mason in the opener and a 74-50 win against Liberty. Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State and Rutgers all remained undefeated with two wins each as well.
The Trophy Case
Iowa’s Megan Gustafson, a junior forward, was named Big Ten Player of the Week thanks to her effort in the Hawkeye Challenge. In the Hawkeye’s two games, Gustafson scored 51 points, 32 rebounds and three blocks in wins against Quinnipiac and Western Kentucky. Against WKU, she scored a career-high 35 points.
Indiana’s Tyra Buss, Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty, and Mitchell were all named to the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Weekly Honor Roll. Buss scored 28 points and 11 assists with five steals against Arkansas State. Flaherty averaged 24.5 points and five assists in Michigan’s Preseason WNIT wins, while Mitchell averaged 28 points, 6.5 assists, and 6.0 assists against Louisville and Stanford.
Nebraska’s Kate Cain and Purdue’s Karissa McLaughlin shared the Co-Freshman of the Week. Cain pitched in 18 points and nine rebounds in a reserve role for Nebraska against SIU-Edwardsville, while McLaughlin scored 21 with five assists and four steals in Purdue’s win against Central Michigan.