Winning streak boosts OSU women's confidence

From staff reports
Michigan State Spartans Sidney Cooks (10) tries to block a shot by Ohio State Buckeyes Janai Crooms (3) in the second half of the NCAA women's basketball game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan State Spartans at Value City Arena on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. [Tyler Schank/Dispatch]

On the heels of its third straight win, the Ohio State women’s basketball team is hungry for more.

“It feels great, three straight,” freshman guard Janai Crooms said after OSU rallied for a 76-71 overtime victory at Penn State on Thursday night. “Next game’s coming, and we’re ready.”

The Buckeyes (7-8, 3-3) play Sunday at Michigan in what will be the only meeting of the season between the rivals. The Wolverines (11-7, 2-4) have dropped their past two games and three of their past four. Ohio State, meanwhile, is seeking its fourth straight win after five consecutive losses.

Although the Buckeyes have a 54-12 edge in the series, recent games have usually been close, with the last six meetings all decided by no more than nine points.

The Buckeyes are playing their best basketball of the season in large part because of Crooms. The freshman guard from Cranston, Rhode Island, has scored in double figures in each of the past four games after failing to reach that mark in Ohio State’s first 11 games.

Crooms established a career high against Penn State on Thursday with 27 points, making 12 of 15 shots from the field. She also had eight rebounds.

“Janai Crooms really got out and ran and got some big-time baskets in transition,” coach Kevin McGuff said. “She really showed the talent that she has.”

Crooms had 17 points to help Ohio State to a 43-35 lead in the third quarter before the Nittany Lions went on a 28-2 run to take a 63-45 lead with 7:01 remaining in the game. The Buckeyes chipped away, though, and eventually tied the score at 67 on Crooms’ layup with 17 seconds left after a pass from Carmen Grande, who had 12 assists.

In overtime, Crooms made a layup to give OSU the lead for good at 72-70 with 38 seconds left and fellow freshman Dorka Juhasz scored four of her 19 points in the final 15 seconds to allow the Buckeyes to escape with a fulfilling victory.

“It’s a real credit to our kids. They obviously never gave up and really dug in,” McGuff said. “The chemistry’s coming, the execution’s getting better.”


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