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Women’s basketball: Ohio State goes for record fourth win over ranked opponent in four games

Jacob Myers
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State forward Aaliyah Patty, left, is playing despite a recent shoulder injury.

More was asked of Aaliyah Patty at the start of Big Ten play, without forwards Dorka Juhasz and Rebeka Mikulasikova available to play. 

But when it came time for the most crucial games of the season for the Ohio State women’s basketball team, Patty could only watch as the Buckeyes pulled off back-to-back wins over the conference’s top teams. 

"Honestly, I had a couple of heart attacks (watching those games),” Patty said. “I was very proud of them being able to stick it out, pull it out, both games.” 

After missing games against then-No. 11 Michigan and No. 7 Maryland with a dislocated left shoulder from which she said she still has some pain, Patty gave the Buckeyes 13 points, making 5 of 6 free throws in 28 minutes during a massive road win at No. 16 Indiana on Thursday.

With a win on Monday in Evanston, Illinois, against No. 23 Northwestern (9-3, 7-3) — which is likely to still be ranked after beating Iowa on Thursday — the No. 14 Buckeyes (10-1, 6-1) will become the first team in program history to win four consecutive games against ranked opponents.

The Wildcats don’t score at a particularly high rate, but guards Veronica Burton and Lindsey Pulliam have the ability to post big numbers every night. In an 87-80 win over the Hawkeyes — the most points Northwestern has scored in Big Ten play this season — Burton and Pulliam combined for 47 points. 

Winners of five of its last six, Northwestern causes headaches for opposing offenses with its zone defense that is the center of its team identity. The Wildcats lead the conference in turnover margin, forcing an average 22.6 per game while committing just 11.3. 

"We really haven't had a game here in a while where zone execution is so important, but it's going to be critically important (Monday)," Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said.

Patty was one of three Buckeyes to score in double figures against Indiana and lead Ohio State to the impressive road win, as leading scorers Jacy Sheldon and Madison Greene combined to shoot 1-for-15 and score just 11 points. 

In the past three games, Ohio State has delivered in the key moments. Doing so on Monday can make history. 

“This whole ‘beating ranked teams’ is good, but we got to keep going,” Patty said. “Ranked or nonranked, we’ve just got to keep winning.”

jmyers@dispatch.com

@_jcmyers

Ohio State women at Northwestern

When: 8 tonight

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: WBNS-AM (1460)