There’s no simple explanation why the Ohio State women’s basketball team has caught fire of late, but coach Kevin McGuff offered a few ideas.


“We’re just getting better as we’ve continued to evolve on offense,” McGuff said after the Buckeyes clobbered Minnesota 99-76 on Thursday for their fourth consecutive victory.


Indeed, Ohio State (15-9, 8-5 Big Ten) is scoring 84.8 points per game in its recent surge, more than 12 points higher than its season average.


Since the onset of Big Ten play, McGuff has placed a greater emphasis on getting his team to play at a faster pace.


“We’ve been working on that in practice a lot, and it’s paying off,” he said. “We just put them in different situations, and we make them sprint down the floor after every stop.”


That resolve will be tested Sunday when Ohio State travels to 20th-ranked Indiana (20-6, 10-4) for an afternoon contest. Winners in six of their past seven games, the Hoosiers are allowing just 58.2 points per game – third best in the Big Ten. Indiana is the only team to have defeated No. 1 South Carolina.


Ohio State leads the series 57-21, including 13 straight wins.


Freshman guards Madison Greene and Jacy Sheldon said Ohio State’s offensive outburst has been largely the result of the team’s defense providing opportunities to get into transition and score.


McGuff wasn’t exactly buying it.


“I wasn’t particularly impressed with our defense” against Minnesota, he said. “It was spotty. That team got to the line 35 times (making 31). We didn’t guard well enough, plain and simple. When we did get stops, though, we went the other way.”


With eight players scoring 7.3 points per game or more and the same kind of balance coming in rebounding and assists, McGuff has the flexibility to mix and match lineups. A three-guard lineup, with explosive Kierstan Bell providing a spark off the bench, has fueled Ohio State’s offensive improvement.


“Playing small can help us open up the floor and open up driving lanes,” McGuff said. “We are attacking the basket a lot better of late.”


Sophomore forward Dorka Juhasz continues to lead OSU in scoring (12.8 points per game) and rebounding (8.5), with Bell contributing 11.3 points in just 20.9 minutes per outing.


sblackledge@dispatch.com


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