As the regular season winds down, the Ohio State women’s basketball team is gearing up for a late run.
The Buckeyes were able to send the seniors out with a victory Sunday in their final home game, defeating Northwestern 71-62, but they still have some business to take care of — two road games. With just those two games left in the regular season, OSU (15-15, 5-9) is trying to avoid its first losing season since finishing the 2001-02 season 14-15 overall and 9-9 in the conference. Although there are two games left, coach Kevin McGuff emphasized that his team is taking it one game at a time and is currently focusing on Thursday’s matchup against No. 25 Iowa (21-7, 9-5).
“They (the Hawkeyes) are really good on offense,” McGuff said. “They have a style of play that their players really fit. They have done a good job recruiting to that style.”
That style has produced the highest-scoring offense in the Big Ten, as Iowa averages 79.2 points per game. The Hawkeyes scored just above their average in their first game against OSU, when they defeated the Buckeyes 81-74 Jan. 19 in Columbus.
In that game, the Hawkeyes had five players score in double figures and shot 48.3 percent from the field, something that was a cause of concern to McGuff and something he said will be addressed in this week’s preparation.
“We have to really focus and concentrate on a lot of defense,” McGuff said. “The defense will have to be constant through 40 minutes for us to have a chance against Iowa.”
That was not the case in the first meeting, as Iowa outscored OSU 49-36 in the first half.
OSU sophomore guard Cait Craft said the loss to Iowa was disappointing but also something the team look toward to improve.
“We have proven all year that if we would just play two (good) halves, that we could play with basically anybody that we have had on our schedule,” Craft said. “It is just a matter of executing.”
Leading Iowa’s top-tier offense is junior guard Samantha Logic, who was named a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award, given annually to the nation’s top point guard.
If OSU plays man-to-man defense, it is likely Craft will draw the assignment of guarding Logic, something she said she would look forward to doing.
“Defense is what I like to do. It is what I am best at,” Craft said. “I take pride in frustrating people as best as I can … hopefully, I have a chance to guard her.”
While Logic leads the Iowa offense, OSU sophomore guard Ameryst Alston has been productive of late, having put together two straight 30-point games against Nebraska and Northwestern, respectively. Although she is pouring in the points, Alston said her recent success is not simply all her doing.
“I do not really think too much about it,” Alston said of her back-to-back 30-point games. “I was just out there playing hard with my team. They help me get my 30-point games by giving me the ball at the right times … I am not out there doing it by myself.”
Alston echoed her coach’s mindset and said finishing the season above .500 would mean a lot to her and to the team.
“We are just taking it one game at a time,” Alston said.
The Buckeyes are set to tip with No. 25 Iowa at 7 p.m. Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.