The Gophers women’s basketball team has enjoyed defying expectations this season, winning despite nine new players and a starting lineup that averages 19.4 years of age.
But nothing would turn heads like a strong performance on Thursday against third-ranked and undefeated Ohio State at Williams Arena. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
“We’re looking forward to it, a lot,” said Rose Micheaux, a sophomore post averaging 12.5 points and a team-high seven rebounds a game. “I feel like it’s a great moment for us to prove a lot of things.
“There’s a lot of adversity we’re facing, and this game’s a good check-in for us to show we have a good chemistry and we know how to play against really good competition.”
The Buckeyes (15-0 overall, 4-0 Big Ten) bring the conference’s highest-scoring offense (87.3 points per game) and turnover margin (plus-11.5), and their 25.1 forced turnovers per game rank third nationally. The Gophers are expecting an aggressive press from Ohio State, something they’ve struggled with at times this season.
In a 107-85 loss at Maryland in their last game, the Gophers turned the ball over 23 times and were outscored off turnovers 30-2 while falling to 8-6 overall, 1-2 in Big Ten play.
“Just way too many turnovers and way too many points off turnovers,” coach Lindsay Whalen said. “We’ve got to be ready (Thursday). They lead the country in points off turnovers.”
Taylor Mikesell (17.8) and Jacy Sheldon (16.0) lead six Buckeyes players scoring in double figures. Guard Mara Braun (18.1) leads four Gophers scoring in double figures, and Minnesota has a distinct advantage on the boards, on paper, averaging a conference-high 43.5 to 36.3 for the Buckeyes — 13th among the Big Ten’s 14 teams.
“We’ve proven that age doesn’t matter,” Micheaux said. “We have really good, really high talent/IQ levels on the court, and our maturity levels are so high, and we know how to deal with each other.”