Ohio State women’s basketball’s six-game winning streak was snapped Saturday, and in order to get back on track, the Buckeyes will have to go through one of the conference’s top teams.
Ohio State (17-10, 10-6 Big Ten) awaits No. 14 Northwestern (24-3, 14-2) Tuesday at the Schottenstein Center, where the Buckeyes seek to regain momentum heading into the postseason, while the Wildcats try to keep pace with Maryland at the top of the Big Ten standings.
“We need to quickly turn the pages to Northwestern, who is a great team,” Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff said.
The Buckeyes come into this matchup off a razor-thin loss on the road against Rutgers. Prior to the loss, Ohio State had gained control of the fourth seed and the double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament.
Now, it sits a game behind Indiana with just two contests left to play.
The Wildcats enter Columbus, Ohio riding a seven-game winning streak, most recently topping Wisconsin 82-66 on the road. This is the Buckeyes and Wildcats’ first and only meeting this season.
Northwestern is led by junior guard and ESPNW National Player of the Week Lindsey Pulliam, whose 19.3 points per game is third-best in the conference. She’s coming off a week in which she averaged 21.3 points per game throughout a three-game stretch.
“She’s one of the best players in college basketball,” McGuff said. “You can really see her game starting to round out and flourish in a big way.”
Wildcat sophomore guard Veronica Burton is one of the more versatile players in the conference, averaging 11.7 points per game and facilitating the offense with 5.1 assists per game, good for third-most in the conference.
Northwestern has a stout defense, giving up the second-fewest points per contest in the conference at 56.7 points per game. Burton gives them a boost on that end, as she leads the conference with 3.4 steals per game.
Ohio State sophomore forward Dorka Juhasz has been a force of late, averaging 16.5 points and 13 rebounds in the past two contests.
Despite shooting 52 percent from the free-throw line, Juhasz is gradually improving, having shot 8-of-9 from the foul line throughout the past three games.
“I was staying after practice and just shooting free throws,” Juhasz said. “Now I’m very confident with it and at the best time.”
Ohio State freshman guard Kierstan Bell did not travel with the team Saturday for personal reasons, McGuff said. She is back with the team now, but McGuff said her status for tomorrow’s game remains up in the air.
Bell is the Buckeyes’ primary scorer off of the bench, averaging 11.1 points per game.
Playing their second game in three days and fourth in 10, McGuff said the Buckeyes’ schedule is a concern due to the amount of energy the team has expended during the past week.
“We played really hard against Rutgers,” McGuff said. “We will have to find a way though.”
The Buckeyes will recognize the lone senior on the roster, forward Savitha Jayaraman, during Senior Night Tuesday.
Despite missing this season with a back injury, Jayaraman said she has fit the role of the “team mom” on the young squad.
“I was making sure everyone was aware of how we’re supposed to be as an Ohio State athlete,” Jayaraman said.
The Buckeyes and Wildcats tip off at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Schottenstein Center.