Ohio State women’s basketball has opened February with two straight road wins, and it will try to make it three Sunday.
The Buckeyes (13-9, 6-5 Big Ten) could pick up their first three-game win streak of the season with a win against Wisconsin (11-12, 3-9) –– a team sitting third from worst in the conference standings.
In what has been a search for consistency all season, the Buckeyes may have finally found it. They’ve strung together a come-from-behind win over Nebraska and a blowout victory against Illinois as they make a late push for the NCAA Tournament.
“We need to stay focused,” freshman guard Jacy Sheldon said. “We need to keep our eyes on the next game because the past two games don’t really matter.”
Wisconsin is led by sophomore forward Imani Lewis, who puts up 15 points alongside 8.4 rebounds per game. Fellow forward and senior Abby Laszewski adds 11.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
The Badgers come into the contest off a 73-64 loss at the hands of their heated rival Minnesota. Laszewski tied her career high with 25 points in the loss.
Wisconsin has been unable to string together back to back conference wins this season, dealing with similar consistency struggles to the Buckeyes.
Three-point shooting has been an issue for the Badgers, who convert just 29 percent of their attempts behind the arc. Senior guard Suzanne Gilreath leads the Badgers in this front, shooting 37 percent from deep.
Sophomore forward Dorka Juhasz, the Buckeyes’ leading scorer, has led the way all season, putting up a team high 13 points per game alongside 8.5 rebounds.
Juhasz has gradually improved her 3-point shooting over the season, shooting an impressive 40 percent from beyond the arc. Her shooting ability has helped the Ohio State offense stretch its opponents out.
“It makes it harder for other team’s to guard our ball screens,” Juhasz said. “It’s challenging for an opposing team to guard a four or five who can shoot the three.”
However, Juhasz has struggled from the charity stripe this season, where she shoots just 47%.
“It was all mental,” Juhasz said. “I’ve been shooting [them] more in practice.”
Juhasz tweaked her knee mid-way through the third quarter against the Illini Thursday, but said she is working to play against Wisconsin despite the pain.
Sheldon’s hustle sparked the Buckeyes during the opening stages of this run. Sheldon’s 1.3 steals per game is third best on the team, and she adds 8.4 points per game.
“She plays really hard and fast all the time,” Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff said. “She’s great in our system and I think she has an incredibly bright future.”
The Buckeye bench has set itself apart as one of the stronger units in the conference. Freshman guard Kierstan Bell and freshman forward Rebeka Mikulasikova lead the Buckeye from the offensive end, combining for 18 points per game.
Sophomore guard Janai Crooms anchors the Buckeye reserves on the defensive side of the ball, and her nearly 3.6 assists per game lead the team.
“We have the ability to play a lot of people that can contribute to our success,” McGuff said.
After playing three of the past four games on the road, McGuff said the team is glad to be back in Columbus for the conference showdown.
“We’re in for a battle each and every game, ” McGuff said. “It’s nice to be back in front of our fans on Sunday.”
The Buckeyes and Badgers tip off at 2 p.m. in the Schottenstein Center. There will be a celebration for National Girls and Women in Sports Day before the game.