The Ohio State women’s basketball is coming off its biggest loss of the season since UConn put up 85 in a 31-point defeat on Nov. 11.
The 78-52 loss to Iowa was the Buckeyes’ second in their past five games and fourth in their past 10 after starting 4-8.
For freshman guard Janai Crooms, it is all about moving forward and learning from the mistakes.
“Yeah we lost. We still have plenty more games ahead of us,” Crooms said. “I feel like our energy wasn’t as well as it usually is, and some of our starters struggling, but I mean hey, it happens, like everyone, we all have those bad games.”
Two of Ohio State’s starters, redshirt senior guards Carmen Grande and Carly Santoro, where both held scoreless in a combined 48 minutes of time and 0-of-8 shooting, something head coach Kevin McGuff hopes was a one-time thing.
“Hopefully that was an anomaly and we’re gonna see them back to being their normal self,” McGuff said. “We’re gonna need that on Thursday for sure, we need them leading the way for us to be successful against Rutgers.”
Ohio State (10-12, 6-7 Big Ten)
G — Carmen Grande — Redshirt senior, 7.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.8 apg
G — Janai Crooms — Freshman, 7.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.8 apg
G — Carly Santoro — Redshirt senior, 11.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.3 apg
F — Dorka Juhasz — Freshman, 11.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 0.8 apg
F — Makayla Waterman — Redshirt senior, 8.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.8 apg
No. 23 Rutgers (17-6, 9-3 Big Ten)
G — Sierra Calhoun — Redshirt senior, 4.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.6 apg
G — Charise Wilson — Redshirt senior, 7.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.6 apg
G — Ciani Cryor — Redshirt junior, 8.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 5.1 apg
F — Stasha Carey — Redshirt senior, 12.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.1 apg
C/F — Victoria Harris — Senior, 4.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 0.9 apg
Rutgers comes in on a two-game losing streak after winning 17 of its first 21 games to start the season.
On the year, the Scarlet Knights hold the top defense in the Big Ten and No. 20 in the NCAA, allowing 56.1 points per game, while holding opponents to 35.3 percent shooting, also the best in the conference and No. 16 in the country.
“They’re a really tough physical team, so we’re gonna have to make sure that we can match that physicality and toughness around the basket,” McGuff said. “Really athletic, talented team, they play great defense, one of the best defensive teams in the country, and also very talented, so really tough road game for us on Thursday night.”
The defense is a mismatch for Ohio State, who score 61.5 points per game, the lowest in the Big Ten.
Crooms said the defense ahead doesn’t matter as much as playing the right offense on Thursday.
“They’re a pretty good defensive team, but we’re just looking at it as just come in there and playing our game how we play,” Crooms said. “We’re not gonna let their pressing or their defense distract us from what we do and how our style of play is.”
On the other end, the Scarlet Knights’ offense is not as strong. Their 63.8 points per game is second-worst in the conference, only ahead of the Buckeyes. Redshirt senior forward Stasha Carey leads the team with 12.3 points per game.
The matchup will bring the return of redshirt senior guard Sierra Calhoun, who played for Ohio State the previous two seasons before transferring to Rutgers for her final year of eligibility.
In her final year at Ohio State, Calhoun averaged 11.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game while starting all 35 games.
“I hope she’s doing well,” McGuff said. “Outside of just watching film, I don’t know how it’s going but hopefully it’s going well for her, she’s a nice kid, and like I said, hopefully it’s working out.”
Ohio State takes on No. 23 Rutgers at 7 p.m. on Thursday.