Ohio State women’s basketball looks to avoid ending the regular season on a three-game losing streak when it heads to West Lafayette, Indiana, to take on Purdue Saturday.
The Buckeyes (17-11, 10-7 Big Ten) are looking to end their regular season on a high note, as they have lost two straight following a six-game winning streak. Purdue (17-12, 8-9) can lock up the eighth seed in the Big Ten Tournament with a victory.
“This is a game that’s very important for us and we know that,” Ohio State freshman guard Jacy Sheldon said. “We’re going to have to be very focused going into the game.”
It has been a difficult past couple of games for the Buckeyes, as they saw their offense struggle in losses to Rutgers and Northwestern.
Ohio State averaged just 56 points between the two contests, which is 15 points less than their 71-point per game average for the season.
The Buckeye offense has disappeared in the fourth quarter especially, scoring just seven points without a field goal made in the final frame against Rutgers. Ohio State shot just 18.1 percent in the last period against Northwestern.
“I feel like sometimes we get out of hand. Our spacing isn’t always the best,” sophomore guard Janai Crooms said. “We need to think more about what we want to do, rather than letting the opponent speed us up.”
Sophomore forward Dorka Juhasz has remained a steady hand for the Buckeyes, finishing with a double-double in each of the past three games. She has averaged 16 points and 12.7 rebounds per game during this stretch.
Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff said the team expects freshman guard Kierstan Bell to return to action after missing the past two games for personal reasons.
The Boilermakers come into this match-up in a similar situation as Ohio State, having lost two straight. They most recently fell on the road to No. 7 Maryland 88-45.
In their last matchup, the Boilermakers smothered the Buckeye offense en route to a 66-50 win Dec. 28. Ohio State shot just 31.7 percent from the field and turned the ball over 19 times.
“They always prepare really well defensively so they’re not easy to score on,” McGuff said. “I’m sure they will have a big sense of urgency tomorrow.”
Purdue sophomore guard Kayana Traylor put together one of her best performances of the season, scoring 15 points on 3-of-5 shooting. Traylor averages seven points and a team-high 3.3 assists per game.
The Boilermakers are led by a trio of 12.5-plus point per game scorers, chief among them senior forward Ae’Rianna Harris. She puts up a team-high 13.7 points per game. Senior guard Dominique Ogden and junior guard Karissa McLaughlin both add 12.7 points per contest.
Outside of those three weapons, Purdue faces a severe drop off, ranking second from the bottom of the conference with just 64.4 points per game. They also average the second most turnovers per contest with 16.5 per game.
The Boilermakers have one of the top home advantages in the league, as they average the second highest attendance in the Big Ten.
Playing at Purdue is difficult, Crooms said, with even the band becoming a factor.
“Last year when we played there, I missed a layup or a free throw and they were dogging me,” Crooms said. “Their band is just so into it.”
The Buckeyes are deadlocked with Rutgers and Michigan for the fifth seed in the conference.
Ohio State holds the tiebreaker over the Wolverines, but a 59-57 loss to Rutgers gives the Scarlet Knights the tiebreaker over the Buckeyes. Ohio State can secure the fifth seed with a win and a Rutgers loss.
The Buckeyes and Boilermakers tip off at 4 p.m. Saturday.