Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer
For the first time since coach Jim Foster’s arrival in 2002, the Ohio State women’s basketball team is closer and closer to not making an appearance in the NCAA tournament.
The Buckeyes (14-12, 4-9) haven’t had much success in Big Ten play this year and that trend continued against Minnesota Thursday, as the Gophers dropped OSU, 57-56.
With their ninth conference loss this season, the Buckeyes are now tied with Northwestern for ninth out of 12 teams in the Big Ten.
It’s a scenario-a season-that OSU senior guard Tayler Hill didn’t see coming.
“I couldn’t imagine this record we have,” she said after the game.
After going 1-7 in January, OSU started February with a 3-1 record, thanks in large part to its play on the defensive end.
But those defensive efforts seemed absent for OSU Thursday, as Minnesota (16-11, 5-8) shot 42 percent from the field.
With just 13 seconds to play, OSU had the chance to pull off a come-from-behind victory as sophomore guard Raven Ferguson drained a 3-pointer, giving the Bucks a 56-55 lead.
But for every shot the Buckeyes made, the Gophers had an answer.
With two seconds left, Gophers sophomore guard Rachel Banham hit an improbable running jumper, giving Minnesota a 1-point and the win.
“We always think we have a chance to win games this close,” Ferguson said. “She hit a big shot, a crazy shot. That happens in basketball.”
OSU couldn’t find an answer for Banham all night, as she had 17 points and eight rebounds.
Similarly, Minnesota junior forward Micaella Riche had her way in the paint as well, totaling 17 points.
A strong first half helped the Gophers maintain a lead throughout the game.
In the period, Minnesota Gophers connected on 44 percent of their tries while the Buckeyes shot an ice-cold mark of 19 percent and went 0-of-6 from behind the arc.
Still, OSU trailed just 26-20 at halftime.
In the game’s second act, OSU’s offense began to finally click, as the Buckeyes shot 44 percent from the field 30 percent from the 3-point line.
But despite outscoring the Gophers, 36-31, in the second half, OSU wasn’t able to rally past its first half deficit.
“We got to have other players contribute,” Hill, who led OSU with 25 points, said.
“We missed way too many layups in the first half. We got to be able to finish.”
Ferguson and senior guard Amber Stokes and were the only other major contributors for the Buckeyes.
Stokes scored 10 points, four rebounds and three steals in 33 minutes of playing time.
Ferguson finished the night with 10 points and seven rebounds.
The post play for the Buckeyes lacked most of the night as junior centers Ashley Adams and Darryce Moore combined for a 3-of-11 outing in the paint.
“We’re getting no productivity with our post players,” Foster said. “You need to establish the block. The difference in this game is their low post player (Riche).”
With 17:55 left to play, Hill became the second OSU player (Samantha Prahalis) to record at least 1,900 points, 300 assists and 200 steals when she hit a 3-pointer.
With the loss, Buckeyes have now stumbled to their worst Big Ten record since 2001.
“It’s always a challenge to come in here and win,” said Minnesota coach Pam Borton. “Everybody got their money’s worth, didn’t they?”
OSU is set to take on Michigan State on Monday at the Schottenstein Center at 6:30 p.m.