The No. 11 Ohio State women’s basketball team returns to action Thursday against Northwestern after suffering its first defeat of the season Saturday. While the loss against Michigan ended an unblemished record, coach Jim Foster is looking to his upperclassmen to take a leading role in the upcoming game.
“I think it’s up to your players to respond,” Foster said. “The older players, you plus games and you bounce back, the younger players not necessarily. “
Although Northwestern (11-5, 1-2 Big Ten) has lost three of their last four games, the Wildcats won both meetings against OSU last year by a combined total of 17 points. Those victories marked the first time the Northwestern women had won against OSU since 1999. The Wildcats are coming off a road win against Indiana to put their away record at 6-1.
Northwestern is led in scoring by junior forward Kendall Hackney, followed by freshman Morgan Jones, a 2011 McDonald’s High School All-American. The win against Indiana saw four Wildcat players reach double-digits, including 20 from junior center Dannielle Diamant.
“They’re starting to play better,” Foster said. “They’re a solid team; they have size, they shoot the three well, and they are a little more athletic than they have been.”
The Buckeyes are led in scoring by junior guard Tayler Hill and senior guard Samantha Prahalis who are averaging 21.3 and 18.3 points per game, respectively.
OSU leads the Big Ten in points scored with 72.8 points per game, but against Michigan, the Buckeyes only managed 62 points, their lowest score all year. Foster accounts the lesser point total to a lack of inside play.
“I just think our post players initially sat back and let our guards determine too much,” Foster said. “The days the guards aren’t shooting well, our post players have picked up the slack, and in this game they weren’t engaged as they needed to be.”
While the Buckeyes rank ninth in NCAA field goal percentage, the Buckeyes were 21-52 from the field in Ann Arbor, Mich., including 5-21 from behind the arc. The increase in shots was a rare stat for OSU, which prides itself on collaborative play.
“I think its pretty easy to break, because I think essentially that’s the way we’ve been playing, and I just think its a blimp that we didn’t play that way,” Foster said.
Players were not made available for comment.
Both OSU and Northwestern find themselves in the heart of their Big Ten schedules, with every game having implications on NCAA tournament bids. Thursday evenings’ match-up will be the fourth conference meeting for each team, and the only time they will face each other in regular season play.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.