Redshirt senior guard Carmen Grande called Ohio State’s comeback win against Penn State on Jan. 17 “the slowest comeback of all time.”
Trailing the Nittany Lions 54-45 at the end of the third quarter, the Buckeyes made eight of its 14 attempts from the field, outscoring its opponent 22-13 in the final quarter to tie the game at 76 at the end of regulation.
The Buckeyes extended their two-game winning streak to three, securing an overtime victory in what seemed to be a turning point in the season.
Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff said his team played very well at the end of the game, moving the ball well and executing on all fronts, giving the Buckeyes confidence that continues to affect this game continuing through conference play.
Even though that game was only a few weeks ago, Grande still sees a different team than the one that won in overtime on the road.
“We just keep getting better,” Grande said. “We found our identity, which I think that at that time, ‘Are we this, are we that?’ We were still figuring it out. I think we pretty much have figured it out.”
Ohio State will show off that new identity against the Nittany Lions on Wednesday.
Ohio State (9-11, 5-6 Big Ten)
G – Carly Santoro – Redshirt senior, 11.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.4 apg
G – Carmen Grande – Redshirt senior, 7.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.1 apg
G – Janai Crooms – Freshman, 7.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.7 apg
F – Dorka Juhasz – Freshman, 11.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 0.7 apg
F – Makayla Waterman – Redshirt senior, 8.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.9 apg
Penn State (10-11, 3-7 Big Ten)
G – Teniya Page – Senior, 19.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.7 apg
G – Amari Carter – Senior, 9.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.5 apg
G – Siyeh Frazier – Junior, 9.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.5 apg
G – Karisma Ortiz – Freshman, 3.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.2 apg
F – Alisia Smith – Sophomore, 9.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 0.4 apg
Even with a new identity, Ohio State will have to show some improvement, especially after the performance the team had in its past game
The Buckeyes are coming off a 76-59 road drubbing by Northwestern, which McGuff referred to as the worst loss of the season for his team.
Much like the Buckeyes’ overtime win against Penn State on Jan. 18, Ohio State struggled with ball control against the Wildcats, recording 20 turnovers while Northwestern scored 29 points off turnovers. Grande was responsible for a team-high six turnovers in the contest.
The redshirt senior point guard said that ball control will continue to be a focus, facing a Penn State team that, despite its struggles defensively, records an average of 7.7 steals per game, fourth-most in the Big Ten.
“We try and focus on executing and taking care of the ball, not going too fast,” Grande said. “So like catch the ball first before you do anything so you don’t turn it over.”
McGuff said Penn State has “quick, athletic guards” who pressure opponents in half-court and full-court press.
Other than their turnover margin, the Nittany Lions have struggled in every facet of defense. Penn State allows opponents to score 69.9 points per game and shoot 42.1 percent from the field, both worst in the Big Ten.
In Penn State’s last game against then-No. 13 Iowa, the Nittany Lions allowed the Hawkeyes to shoot 53.1 percent from the field, making 6-of-15 from 3 in their 20-point loss on Sunday.
Offensively, Penn State has a guard that McGuff considers to be one of the best in the conference. Senior guard Teniya Page is averaging 19.8 points per game, 9.9 points more than any other player on the roster. She is shooting 38.4 percent from the field and 32.2 percent from deep.
But McGuff said Ohio State will have its leading scorer, freshman forward Dorka Juhasz, return to the starting lineup against Penn State.
After playing 27 minutes in the Buckeyes’ loss to Northwestern, scoring a team-leading 14 points off the bench, Juhasz, according to McGuff, is expected to be “100 percent mentally and physically” against the Nittany Lions.
“We need her,” McGuff said. “Obviously, she has played really well late, so we need her at 100 percent for us to be successful.”
Ohio State will take on Penn State at the Schottenstein Center at 7 p.m. Wednesday.