Ohio State women look to figure out zone in rematch with Northwestern

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State guard Kateri Poole goes up for a shot last week against Minnesota in Value City Arena, where the Buckeyes average nearly 15 points per game more than they do on the road in the Big Ten.

Ohio State women’s basketball coach Kevin McGuff was left feeling a little befuddled following a loss at Northwestern earlier this month.

The Buckeyes were stumped by the zone defense employed by the host Wildcats on Feb. 1, when they made only 28.6% of their field-goal attempts from the field, their second-lowest mark in a game this season, and turned the ball over 16 times. Those factors proved to be their undoing in the 69-57 setback.

McGuff noted that the Buckeyes (12-3, 8-3 Big Ten) usually fare better against a zone, a trend he hopes will re-emerge when Northwestern (11-4, 9-4) visits Value City Arena at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

“We’re going to have to execute much better offensively,” McGuff said, “and we’re going to have to make sure we can generate better shots that we the last time we played them.”

The matchup is critical for the 12th-ranked Buckeyes in their hopes of climbing back toward the top of the Big Ten standings and competing for a regular-season conference championship. Ohio State is in fourth place, 1½ games behind first-place Maryland.

The margin for error in the title push is especially thin with only six games left in the regular season, barring any unannounced makeup games from when OSU had a COVID-19 outbreak in its program.

The Buckeyes suffered an upset loss at Wisconsin on Wednesday, and the 21st-ranked Wildcats also enter Sunday’s game while coming off a loss. They were handled by Rutgers 70-54 on Thursday, snapping a three-game winning streak.

The Scarlet Knights held guard Veronica Burton to seven points, five rebounds and four assists.

As much as the Buckeyes struggled on the offensive end in the previous matchup against Northwestern, they also had issues containing Burton, who had 20 points, 15 rebounds and nine points against them.

Notably, Ohio State has played much better at home than on the road this season, averaging 85.2 points in five Big Ten home games this season as opposed to 70.3 points in six road games.



No. 12 Ohio State vs. No. 21 Northwestern

When: 12:30 p.m. Sunday

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: WBNS-AM (1460)