When the Ohio State women’s basketball team lost at Maryland on Jan. 5, its record was 4-8 overall and 0-3 in the Big Ten. Playing meaningful games at the end of the season seemed a remote possibility.

All of that has changed as the Buckeyes (12-12, 8-7) have won five of their past seven games and find themselves in a four-way tie for fifth in the conference, just one game from fourth and 2½ games out of third. The top four teams in the standings get a double-bye in the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis March 6-10.

 

Join the conversation at Facebook.com/BuckeyeXtra and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra

 

In a 70-68 home win over Wisconsin on Sunday, 6-foot-4 freshman Dorka Juhasz paced the Buckeyes with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Her efforts earned her the Big Ten freshman of the week award for the second time.

Thursday’s game won’t be easy for the Buckeyes as they travel to East Lansing, Michigan, to take on Michigan State (17-8, 7-7). The Spartans are 13-0 at home but on a two-game losing streak and have lost three of their last four games. OSU won the first meeting with then-17th-ranked Michigan State 65-55 on Jan. 14 at Value City Arena.

“They’re one of the best teams in the league and we played one of our best games of the season the first time we played them,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “They have bunch of really talented upperclassmen. That will be a significant challenge for us.”

Shay Colley, a 5-9 junior, leads four Spartans who are averaging double-figures in scoring. Colley is averaging 15.6 points this season, but in her last three games, she has 73 points total for a 24.3 average. Jenna Allen, a 6-4 senior center, is averaging 13.4 points and 7.0 rebounds.

Ohio State’s Makayla Waterman, a 6-2 starting senior forward, has missed the last two games and is a game-day decision.

McGuff said he won’t be scoreboard-watching as the Buckeyes attempt to climb the ladder in the conference.

“We have our hands full day-to-day with just making sure we get better and get prepared for the next game,” McGuff said. “That stuff will be what it will be, we just have to stay focused and keep getting better.”

jthitoff@dispatch.com