Surprising results have marked Ohio State’s nonconference schedule in women’s basketball, which draws to a close Tuesday night at Sacramento State.
Even the timing of this game is something of a surprise. The teams were supposed to meet last season, but the game was canceled because of wildfires near Sacramento.
The game is the second stop of a northern California tour for Ohio State (6-4), which lost 71-52 to top-ranked Stanford on Sunday. Sophomore Janai Crooms had 15 points and sophomore Dorka Juhasz 10 to pace the Buckeyes, whose three-game winning streak was snapped. The game was marked by sloppy play, with Stanford committing 21 turnovers and Ohio State 24.
"We played a difficult schedule, and we've had growing pains," coach Kevin McGuff said. "It will help prepare us for the Big Ten. It's disappointing we didn't play better, but there's a long way to go."
With two seniors and one junior on the roster, the Buckeyes are rounding their many young players into shape. Juhasz leads the team with 11.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, and freshman Rebeka Mikulasikova is shooting 53.7 percent from the field, 56.9 percent from three-point range and 90.9 percent from the free throw line.
The nonconference schedule has included unexpected losses to Ohio and South Dakota, but also a respectable 11-point loss to No. 2 UConn and a seven-point win over No. 6 Louisville.
The idea behind a challenging nonconference schedule was to help prepare the Buckeyes for the Big Ten, which features four ranked teams: No. 12 Indiana, No. 13 Maryland, No. 19 Michigan State and No. 24 Michigan.
Although Sacramento State has stumbled out to a 1-6 start, it has had several close losses and a point differential of just minus-2.3.