Ohio native Ashley Rininger tallied 18 points and six rebounds against Ohio State on Friday.
After Audrey Rettstatt's three-pointer with 7:29 remaining gave upset-minded Liberty a 61-60 lead on No. 11/14 Ohio State, the Buckeyes clamped down on defense. Ohio State outscored the Lady Flames 15-4 the rest of the way, pulling out a hard-fought 75-65 victory during Friday's action at the South Point Thanksgiving Tournament at South Point Arena.
Ohio State (3-2), typically known for its high-octane offensive attack, used defense to key its third straight victory. The Buckeyes held Liberty to 2-of-11 shooting and forced six turnovers during the final seven minutes of play. Meanwhile, Kelsey Mitchell scored four of her game-high 20 points and Alexa Hart had six of her season-high 18 tallies during the decisive game-ending surge.
Liberty falls to 2-3 with its third straight setback, despite shooting 49.1 percent (26-of-53) from the field, outrebounding Ohio State by 11 (42-31) and getting productive afternoons from starting post players Ashley Rininger (18 points, six rebounds) and Catherine Kearney (season-high 11 points, eight rebounds).
The Lady Flames were undone by a season-high 29 turnovers, which led to 37 of Ohio State's points.
After Ohio State jumped out to an 8-2 lead at the outset, Liberty reeled off a 13-2 run, highlighted by three made triples. A steal and layup by Sadalia Ellis gave the Lady Flames a 15-10 advantage at 2:51 of the opening quarter. Liberty did not trail again during the first quarter and took an 18-15 lead into the second quarter.
The second 10 minutes saw three lead changes and two ties as each team displayed its strengths. Ohio State utilized five three-pointers during a 29-point quarter and took advantage of 10 Liberty turnovers to lead by as many as 11 (44-33).
Meanwhile, Liberty used its size advantage to great effect, with Rininger (10 points) and Kearney (3) combining for 13 of the Lady Flames' 18 points in the quarter. Brooke Alexander's triple as the halftime buzzer sounded cut Ohio State's lead to 44-36 after 20 minutes.
Ohio State converted Liberty's 15 first-half turnovers into 23 points. The Lady Flames shot 57.7 percent (15-of-26) from the field before halftime and outrebounded the Buckeyes, 19-13.
Liberty scored the first eight points of the third quarter, closing out an overall 11-0 run. Kearney notched the final four points of the surge, including a layup which tied the score at 44-44 at the 7:08 mark.
The Buckeyes countered with eight consecutive points during a 69-second span, taking a 52-44 advantage on an Asia Doss hoop with 5:35 to play in the quarter. Ohio State stayed in front for the remainder of the period and took a 60-52 edge into the final 10 minutes of play.
The Lady Flames opened the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run, going in front 61-60 on the aforementioned three-pointer by Audrey Rettstatt with 7:27 remaining.
Shayla Cooper scored 47 seconds later, putting the Buckeyes in front for good. The only offense Liberty could manage the rest of the way came from a pair of putbacks by Katelyn Adams.
Ohio State hit just enough free throws (7-of-12) during the final seven minutes to keep the Lady Flames at bay and foil their chance at their first upset of a Top 25 team since March 22, 2005.
Despite its success shooting the ball from the field, Liberty once again struggled at the foul line, going 8-of-15 for 53.3 percent. The Lady Flames did match a season high with 36 points in the paint and tallied 23 bench points. Ohio State was less proficient than usual shooting the basketball, falling below its season averages for field goal percentage (40.3 on 25-of-62), three-point field goal percentage (29.2 on 7-of-24) and free throw percentage (56.3 on 18-of-32).
Buckeye State native Rininger's 18 points moved her into eighth place on Liberty's all-time scoring list with 1,190 markers.
Coming off the bench for the first time this season, Jaymee Fisher-Davis finished with nine points. However, her program-record streak of 26 straight made free throws came to an end with her miss during the third quarter.
Adams grabbed seven boards, jumping to 11th place in program annals with 608 career rebounds.
Ellis contributed six points, six assists and four steals before fouling out. The senior point guard has now racked up 15 thefts during this season's first five games.
Ohio State's Mitchell moved to within 14 points of 1,000, just five contests into her sophomore season. She connected on three of the Buckeyes' seven triples for the game.
Ameryst Alston added 13 points and four steals for Ohio State, while Cooper provided seven points, a game-high 10 rebounds and a career-high six assists.
Liberty will wrap up its appearance in the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout tomorrow at 5:15 p.m. Eastern when the Lady Flames take on No. 16/15 California. It will mark the first-ever hardwood meeting between the Lady Flames and 4-1 Golden Bears, who lost to No. 10/9 Texas A&M, 75-58, during Friday afternoon's opening game.