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Rutgers hosts 2nd game of week

Sunday was a tough performance for the then No. 20 Rutgers women's basketball team at home in its 62-48 loss to then No. 10 Maryland. But there is a bright side for the Scarlet Knights (17-6, 9-3) who don't play any team with a conference record above .500.

Rutgers welcomes Ohio State to Piscataway for a Thursday night matchup that tips off at 7 p.m. at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC).

Since their 10-game winning streak was snapped, the Knights have dropped 3 of their last 5 games. In losses against Iowa, Minnesota and more recently against the Terrapins, Rutgers has had trouble with teams that have more size in their backcourts.  

That is something the team is going to need to change if it has any hope at a run at hoisting a conference championship trophy in Indianapolis, Indiana next month.

The Buckeyes (10-12, 6-7) also played on Sunday in Columbus, Ohio against the then No. 16 Hawkeyes (19-5, 10-3). Ohio State got a heavy dose of Iowa's Megan Gustafson, just as the Knights did in Iowa City last month.  

Gustafson, the leading scorer in the NCAA, picked up 19 of her 29 points in the second half en route to the Hawkeyes blowout 78-52 win over the Buckeyes.

Coming into Thursday’s matchup, Ohio State has a 2-6 road record with wins against the Golden Gophers and the Nittany Lions. The Buckeyes come in led by 6-foot-4-inch freshman forward Dorka Juhasz. A Hungary native, she is averaging 11.8 points and 8.3 rebounds, leading her team in both of those categories.  

The Buckeyes' backcourt features 5-foot-10-inch Carly Santoro, a graduate transfer from Bowling Green. She is the second leading scorer on the team, averaging 11.3 points per game. 

Her counterpart is Carmen Grande, another graduate transfer. Grande, a former Ball State player,  is averaging 7.3 points per game and leads the team in averaged assists per game, with 4.8.

Grande and Santoro have a notable size advantage over Rutgers' guards junior Ciani Cryor and graduate student Charise Wilson.

Fifth-year senior forward Stasha Carey will have to get going early, for the Knights. She finished with 15 points on 6-13 shooting against Maryland, but only had two points on 1-5 shooting in the first half. If Carey forces Ohio State to alter its game plan, Rutgers has a chance to defeat its opponent.

This is a big game for graduate student guard Sierra Calhoun. She spent two years with the Buckeyes, averaging 10.6 points per game over that time span before transferring to the Banks. She started her third game this season on Sunday and is averaging 4.4 points per game in 16 games played. 

This will be the first time she sees her old team, with the second coming on March 3 in Columbus.

The Knights have a golden opportunity to at least clinch a bye until Friday of the Big Ten Tournament during these final six games. If they get a few other things to fall their way, they may be able to snag the No. 1 seed in the tournament. Currently, Rutgers sits one and a half games behind the Terrapins for first place in the conference while the Knights have one game at hand.

For updates on the Rutgers women's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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