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Ohio State women’s basketball look to salvage season against Nebraska

Sophomore guard Cait Craft (13) looks for an open teammate during a game against Penn State Feb. 9 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 74-54. Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editor

Sophomore guard Cait Craft (13) looks for an open teammate during a game against Penn State Feb. 9 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 74-54.
Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editor

With just four remaining regular season games on the schedule, the Ohio State women’s basketball team (14-14, 4-8) is attempting to salvage what is left of a disappointing season.

The Buckeyes sit at .500 on the season and are set to play their fourth straight game against a ranked opponent while trying to end their four-game skid. OSU is 2-7 against opponents ranked by the AP this season.

Coach Kevin McGuff said with the current losing streak, he wants to see more leadership from his players, something he said starts with his upperclassmen.

“It is kind of a challenge to our seniors,” McGuff said. “They have to rise to the occasion here and make sure we practice well and make sure we are ready to go in these games.”

With the season winding down, McGuff said he would like to send the seniors out on a high note.

“They are really good kids and they try to do what they can to help their program be good,” McGuff said. “They have done everything we have asked them to do. I have enjoyed coaching them and hopefully we can find a way to put them in a position to be successful down the stretch.”

OSU is scheduled to play the first of their final two home games of the season this week against No. 17 Nebraska (19-5, 9-3) Thursday. Sunday afternoon’s matchup against Northwestern (14-11, 4-8) is the Buckeyes’ home finale and Senior Day.

With the only meeting against the Cornhuskers this regular season looming, McGuff said his team needs to come ready to play.

“They are playing really well … they seem to be peaking at the right time,” McGuff said referencing Nebraska’s current six-game winning streak. “They score the ball really well and are very proficient on offense.”

The Cornhuskers are currently third in the Big Ten in scoring offense as they average 75.3 points per game. Nebraska boasts the conference’s top-ranked scoring defense, allowing just 61.9 points per game, which does not bode well for the Buckeye offense which ranks last in the Big Ten in scoring.

Echoing her coach, redshirt-junior guard Amy Scullion said Nebraska’s efficiency on offense will prove to be a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.

“Nebraska is tough. They are really disciplined and they execute well,” Scullion said. “But it is a team that — if we defend well — we have a chance (to beat).”

For the Buckeyes to be successful, they will need key contributions from role players such as junior guard Raven Ferguson, who said the Buckeyes feel confident against Nebraska’s man-to-man defense.

“We enjoy when people play man, because we get a lot of one-on-one situations,” Ferguson said. “We feel like we can beat anybody.”

Ferguson, who is OSU’s second-leading scorer with 10.9 points per game despite coming off the bench for most of the season, said one of the biggest challenges for the Buckeyes is their lack of depth.

“Our numbers are really low and that affects us as far as subbing goes,” Ferguson said of OSU’s lack of available players. “I know we can still get through that. Those are things that you have to overcome when you play basketball.”

Ferguson and senior center Ashley Adams have been the only two constant bench players to see action in recent weeks with junior guard Maleeka Kynard battling a nagging injury, although recently redshirt-freshman Lisa Blair has seen an increase in playing time. The Buckeyes have also been without redshirt-sophomore forward Kalpana Beach for the second straight season after she underwent a second knee surgery in April. Beach has not played since her freshman season in 2011-12, in which she started 30 games.

The Buckeyes are scheduled to play Nebraska at the Schottenstein Center Thursday at 7 p.m., and the Senior Day action against Northwestern is slated for a tipoff of noon Sunday.

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