Down a starting player and facing a top-10 nationally ranked opponent, the No. 24 Ohio State women’s basketball team (11-6, 2-3) snapped a two-game losing streak when it knocked off No. 9 Michigan State (16-2, 4-1), 67-53, Sunday at the Schottenstein Center.
The Buckeyes took a 33-29 lead into halftime after playing a closely contested half with the Spartans in which neither team extended a lead past six points. Five minutes into the half, OSU found itself without starting forward Sarah Schulze, who left the game, suffering what appeared to be a knee injury.
OSU coach Jim Foster said he was not sure of her diagnosis.
“Doctors will have to talk to you about that,” he said. “I’m not very optimistic.”
The Buckeyes ratcheted up their defense in the second half, holding the Spartans to 25 percent shooting as they stretched their lead to double digits on a Brittany Johnson 3-pointer with 17 minutes remaining. The Spartans struggled to fight back, as the Buckeyes led by as many as 17 points in the second half.
For the game, MSU connected on 20 of its 69 shot attempts, good for a 29 percent shooting percentage.
“We played really hard on defense,” OSU center Jantel Lavender said. “It just created a better offense. We could transition a little bit better to get in our sets, and we got them a little frustrated.”
Lavender led all scorers with 24 points and Tayler Hill added 17 for a Buckeye team that was in much need of a win. Prior to Sunday’s game, OSU had lost six of its last nine games.
“We were desperate for a win, by any means necessary,” Lavender said. “We know how we have to play from now on.”
Sunday’s victory gave the Buckeyes their second conference win of the season and handed the Big Ten-leading Spartans their first conference loss of the year.
The Buckeyes play at 8 p.m. Thursday at Illinois, where they’ll attempt to pick up their first road win of the Big Ten season.
“I just really want us to get after it on the road and not let other people’s crowds get into the game,” Lavender said. “We just got to come out and play hard every game, like we did tonight. It can’t just be at home.”