The Ohio State women’s basketball team (12-9, 2-3) is currently on a two-game losing streak, but it has a chance to gain ground in the conference standings by notching a win against Big Ten rival Michigan (13-5, 4-1) Thursday.
The Buckeyes are currently tied for seventh in the Big Ten with Indiana, Northwestern and Wisconsin, while the Wolverines are tied for first place with Penn State and in-state rival Michigan State.
In the two teams’ first meeting this season, Michigan won against OSU, 64-49, in Columbus Jan. 5, in a game where offense was hard to come by. The Buckeyes only managed 13 first-half points, a performance that coach Kevin McGuff described as “ugly.”
“We did not play well offensively,” McGuff said. “They had a good defensive game plan and we did not react well.”
The Buckeyes shot just 31.3 percent from the field in the Michigan loss but showed improvement in that category during Sunday’s loss to Iowa, in which they shot 49.2 percent.
Despite a better shooting performance against the Hawkeyes, the feeling in the locker room was still one of disappointment, sophomore guard Cait Craft said.
“Lately, the games that we keep coming up short in … it is like we are not even there,” Craft said, referring to the team’s tendency to start slow. “To keep coming back and coming up just a little bit short is disappointing for everybody.”
Craft’s comments pertained to the Iowa game in particular, since the Buckeyes dug themselves a 17-point hole and spent the entire game trying to catch up, ultimately losing 81-74.
Although the team has been getting off to slow starts because of poor shooting, redshirt-junior guard Amy Scullion said she and her teammates need to keep moving forward and not dwell on losses.
“You cannot focus on the past and what we have done wrong,” Scullion said. “Coach (McGuff) put in a new offense for us … (and) moving forward, we are going to try to get a lot more dribble penetration.”
OSU has seen success when it rebounds effectively and is 10-0 on the season when outrebounding opponents. Consequently, rebounding well against Michigan during Thursday night’s matchup looks to be a focal point for the team.
“It is something that we are always conscience of,” McGuff said. “That will be a big deal for us this week.”
While the Buckeyes struggled offensively in their first matchup against Michigan, their defense did hold the Wolverines to more than eight points below than their season average of 72.7 points per game.
“By and large, that was not the end of the floor that was our biggest issue,” McGuff said of his team’s defense in the earlier loss to Michigan. “We need to find a way to generate more offense.”
The Buckeyes are set to tip off at 7 p.m. Thursday against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich.