Womens Basketball Momentumdriven Ohio State attempts to stall struggling Illinois

Ohio State junior guard Jensen Caretti (33) takes a jump shot in the second half of the game against Indiana on Jan 10. Ohio State won 55-50. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorWith two straight losses and only one road win — an overtime win against Penn State — to its name, the odds were not in the Ohio State women’s basketball team’s favor as it headed up to Minneapolis to face off against Minnesota. Throughout most of the game, the odds seemed to be correct as Minnesota maintained a steady lead against the Buckeyes.But a 16-0 run in the fourth quarter was all Ohio State needed to get a victory against the Golden Gophers, 65-55 on Monday. The Buckeyes did this all without the help of freshman forward Dorka Juhasz, who missed the past two games with a sprained ankle injury she suffered against Michigan on Jan. 20. Instead, freshman forward Aaliyah Patty scored 20 points to lead the way for Ohio State in her second start of the season. Now, the Buckeyes will try and build off the road win as they head back to Columbus to take on Illinois.Projected StartersOhio State (8-10, 4-5 Big Ten)G – Carly Santoro – Redshirt senior, 11.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.3 apgG – Carmen Grande – Redshirt senior, 7.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 5.1 apgG – Janai Crooms – Freshman, 7.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.5 apgF – Aaliyah Patty – Freshman, 6.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.1 apgF – Makayla Waterman – Redshirt senior, 7.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.7 apgIllinois (9-11, 1-8 Big Ten)G – Brandi Beasley – Junior, 11.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 5.2 apgG – Cierra Rice – Redshirt junior, 8.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.6 apgG – Courtney Joens – Junior, 6.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.3 apgF – Alex Wittinger – Senior, 15.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.2 apgF – Ali Andrews – Junior, 6.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.0 apgMomentum is on Ohio State’s side heading into this game. Illinois is currently riding a six-game losing streak and is last in the Big Ten with a 1-8 record in conference play. However, Illinois is not a team to be taken lightly as veteran players like Beasley and Wittinger will pose a tough threat for the Buckeyes. Both players have scored more than 1,000 points in their career and will continue to add to their totals on Thursday.With each game, Ohio State has been getting more consistent on both sides of the court. After a dismal 2-5 record in December, the Buckeyes have turned things around in January with wins over two ranked opponents in Indiana and Michigan State and a 4-3 record. This has been helped by both veteran and new presences on the court. Santoro, Waterman and Grande have been consistent on all sides of the ball, racking up points, assists, rebounds and forcing turnovers to propel Ohio State forward. Crooms has scored 10 points in five of her past seven games and averaged a total of 13 points per game over that stretch. Ohio State will take on Illinois at the Schottenstein Center at 7 p.m. on Thursday. read more