The Ohio State women’s basketball team (13-12, 9-7 Big Ten) took down Michigan State (17-9, 7-8 Big Ten) by a score of 77-70 to pick up its third straight win on Thursday.
Freshman guard Janai Crooms has been a revelation for the Buckeyes this season, stepping up on a team lost in transition after losing their entire starting five from a season ago. Though Crooms has only received time with the starting five as of late, she’s made the most of the opportunities given to her this season.
Thursday was no exception.
Crooms led the way early for the Buckeyes, dropping 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting and two 3-pointers en route to a 20-19 Ohio State lead at the end of the first quarter.
Freshman forward Aaliyah Patty has also found success in her time starting with redshirt senior forward Makayla Waterman out due to an injury.
After four points in the opening frame, Patty exploded for nine points in the second quarter, scoring a layup, a 3-pointer, and at a trip to the free throw line.
Patty finished the game with 13 points and six rebounds.
The Buckeyes were shooting well in the first half, finishing it 12-of-25 from the field and 5-of-10 from 3-point range, but still couldn’t get past their turnovers issues with nine in the first 20 minutes, settling for a 35-32 lead at halftime.
The teams continued to play each other close, with Ohio State never jumping out to a lead of more than a few points. After going back and forth in the third quarter, Michigan State was able to take a 48-46 lead, its first lead since early in the second quarter.
The main reason the Spartans played so close was the playmaking of freshman guard Nia Clouden who scored 23 points, with nine coming in the third quarter.
After a series of fouls and turnovers in the final minutes of the third quarter by Ohio State, the Spartans were able to take a 52-50 lead into the fourth.
Down three points early in the final frame, redshirt senior guard Carly Santoro connected on a 3-pointer to ties things up, and a trip to the free throw line by freshman forward Dorka Juhasz on the next possession gave Ohio State the lead.
Juhasz added 10 points and seven boards in the game.
After being quiet for most of the game, Santoro was finally able to get going in the fourth quarter with the game on the line and scored nine points in the closing 10 minutes. Santoro finished with 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting.
Down two points with just over two minutes remaining, 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions by redshirt senior guard Carmen Grande and Juhász gave the Buckeyes a four-point lead. After a pair of missed free throws by the Spartans, they were forced to start fouling with under a minute remaining, and the Buckeyes were able to finish things off at the free throw line with a 77-70 win.
Crooms led the team with 20 points and also added seven rebounds on 7-of-8 shooting, and every starter for Ohio State finished with double digit point totals. Grande also added 17 points and went 7-of-8 from the free throw line.
It was a strong shooting night for the Buckeyes, who connected on 50 percent of their shots from the field and were 9-of-20 from behind the arc. Ohio State was able to limit the Spartans to 35.4 percent from the field and 4-of-22 from the 3-point line.
Ohio State will stay on the road to take on Wisconsin next Thursday at 9 p.m.