Tim Kubick / For The Lantern
Ohio State women’s basketball will be without one of its best players for about a month.
A left knee sprain will sideline Buckeye redshirt senior guard Amber Stokes for four weeks, OSU spokesman Adam Widman told The Lantern.
Stokes suffered the injury late in the first half against Illinois Sunday in a 79-73 loss to the Illini at the Schottenstein Center.
Prior to the setback, Stokes had played 13 minutes and notched two points, two rebounds, three assists and one steal.
“She’s a great defensive player, but it will be (freshman guard) Cait (Craft’s) job to step up,” OSU coach Jim Foster said in a press release. “Overall Cait played solid defense and she’s going to get more playing time.”
Craft is the younger sister of men’s basketball junior guard Aaron Craft.
The loss against Illinois is OSU’s (10-5, 0-2) first loss in a Big Ten home opener under Foster, who has been at the helm of the program for 11 years.
In a contest that saw nine changes in the lead and seven ties, senior guard Tayler Hill amassed 30 points, including shooting 5-of-11 from behind the arc.
After leading at the half, 35-31, OSU was outscored 48-38 in the game’s second act, perhaps a telling sign after losing Stokes, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last season.
“I think it hurt us badly, but we’ve been practicing and we know this happens,” said OSU sophomore guard Raven Ferguson in a press release. “I should have stepped up and done a better job in taking her place. She’s a big part of our team.”
The Buckeyes also struggled with free throws, connecting on just 64 percent of them (16-25) compared to Illinois’ 85.7 percent (30-34).
“We have to want to make changes that are necessary,” Hill said. “(Stokes) is out and now it’s time for people to step up, starting with myself. I have to find a way to make us more excited and get us more energy.”
OSU is set to face Minnesota Thursday in Minneapolis.
And the Buckeyes have to do it without Stokes.
“We have to compete in practice and want to get better. Especially with Amber (Stokes) out, now it’s harder for us,” Ferguson said. “We have to go harder and make each other better. I know (Hill) feels like it’s going to be harder for her, but I feel like we have to step up and take the pressure off her.”