Nineteen days ago, the Ohio State women’s basketball team took a four-game losing streak to College Park, Maryland, for a game against the nation’s fourth-ranked team.
The Buckeyes lost that game to Maryland to see their record drop to 4-8, but how they stood in against a top-five team on the road — OSU led midway through the fourth quarter and trailed only 70-69 in the final two minutes — provided the team with a much-needed confidence boost.
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“We were the tougher team on the court that night,” OSU freshman Dorka Juhasz said of the 75-69 loss. “It was a great lesson that we can play a good game like that against any team in the conference.”
Ohio State (7-9, 3-4) has played four games since then and won three of them — two against teams ranked in the top 25 at the time. So with 10th-ranked Maryland (16-2, 5-2) in town for Thursday’s rematch at Value City Arena, the Buckeyes feel better about their position than they did in early January.
Then again, it’s also true that Ohio State has led or been tied in the fourth quarter in each of its past six games and walked away with a 3-3 record.
Included in that stretch is a 76-71 win at Penn State on Jan. 17 in which the Buckeyes rallied from a 63-45 deficit in the final 6½ minutes, then won the game by outscoring the Lions 9-1 in the final 75 seconds of overtime.
Also included, however, is a 62-58 loss at Michigan on Sunday in which the Buckeyes couldn’t hold a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve improved significantly, I think everyone can see that,” OSU coach Kevin McGuff said. “We’re playing hard, we’re competing. It’s just a matter of making more winning plays down the stretch.”
The Buckeyes get their next chance at a 40-minute game against the same Maryland team that sparked their turnaround.
“We’re going to have to have the same type of effort and intensity to give ourselves a chance to win,” McGuff said. “We’ll have to make more winning plays if we want a different result.”