Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
The Ohio State women’s basketball team finished the regular season on a three-game winning streak that concluded with a 66-55 win at home against Michigan on Sunday.
Now, OSU has been selected as the No. 9 seed in the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament, and it will hope to carry that momentum into their opening matchup against No. 8 seed Minnesota Thursday.
“We have to keep on doing what we’re doing and not change anything,” said sophomore guard Raven Ferguson. “Things are going so well I just don’t see any reason to change because we’re doing it right. We have this three-game winning streak and we’re going to play how we need to play.”
This will be OSU’s third game against the Golden Gophers this year, both of which Minnesota won.
The first loss, an 83-74 setback, came Jan. 10 in Minneapolis, Minn. The next, a last-second 57-56 defeat at the Schottenstein Center, came on Feb. 21.
“I don’t think we played very well in either game against Minnesota, even though the game was decided in the last second here at home,” said OSU coach Jim Foster. “We did a lot of things that hurt us and we need to correct that.”
The remedy might be stopping Minnesota sophomore guard Rachel Banham, who averaged 20.5 points and seven rebounds in the games. Additionally, Gophers junior forward Micaella Riche averaged 18.5 points and six and a half rebounds.
“I think we did a decent job containing (Banham) in the last matchup, but we have to keep her off the foul line because she’s pretty much automatic,” Foster said. “The other kid (Riche) is the issue and we just have to guard her a heck of a lot better than we did in the last two games.”
Heading into the tournament, OSU has held its opponents to under 60 points in eight straight games and helped lift the team’s spirit in recent weeks.
“The confidence is high and I think we are starting to come together and we have a bit of chip on our shoulder,” said senior guard Tayler Hill. “From here on out, we are 0-and-0. (The) regular season is out and its Big Ten Tournament time so it’s a fresh start.”
If OSU wins its first-round matchup against Minnesota Thursday, they’ll play No. 1 seed Penn State Friday at 7 p.m.
Foster, though, said OSU will be taking each game as it comes with a win or go home mentality.
“It’s always what’s next and you have to focus day by day and if you take care of today then things will get better,” Foster said. “That’s the way I am going into this and that’s how I hope we are going into this.”
Ohio State is set to tip off with Minnesota at 6 p.m. at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Coverage of the game, as well as all of the Big Ten Women’s Tournament action, will be on the Big Ten Network.