This season The Buckeye Battle Cry and Our Honor Defend will once again be teaming up to bring you coverage of Ohio State women’s basketball. The season gets underway this Friday when OSU takes on Notre Dame in the first ever women’s basketball Carrier Classic game. The Buckeyes are coming off of a 25-7 season that got off to the best start in program history, winning their first 15 games, but fizzled down the stretch, ending in a disappointing first round loss in the NCAA tournament and a 16th place ranking in the polls. This season OSU opens at 19th in the rankings but despite that show of confidence by voters, many questions remain about the team.
When a team loses only one player to graduation, you would think that there would be many questions to concern yourself with, after all, almost everyone is back. However, when that player is Samantha Prahalis things aren’t so simple and the major question for your team is obvious, how will the Buckeyes replace the production and leadership of the 2012 Big Ten Player of the Year?
Check out the full season preview for a breakdown of the team by position and a guide to what you should expect to see on the court this year.
March is here and that means it is tournament time. The Ohio State women’s basketball team began their defense of their three straight Big Ten Tournament titles by facing Michigan today, the seventh seeded Wolverines had beaten tenth seeded Illinois yesterday while the second seeded Buckeyes had enjoyed a first round bye. Michigan entered this game having won three straight against Ohio State and the Buckeyes were undoubtedly looking for revenge.
The game got off to a slow start but Ohio State managed to build an early 7-2 lead in the first two minutes of the game. Michigan was playing for their NCAA tournament lives and responded with 10 straight points to take a 12-7 lead with thirteen minutes remaining in the half. A 7 to 2 run by the Buckeyes tied the game at 14 but the Wolverines took an 18-16 lead a couple minutes later. OSU responded with 7 unanswered to take a 23-18 lead with three minutes left on the clock. Michigan trimmed that lead to only three and the Buckeyes headed into the locker room with a 25-22 lead.
When ESPN selected tonight’s game between Ohio State and Penn State to be one of their Monday night games before the season started, people may have questioned why they would have chosen a matchup between the preseason conference favorite Nittany Lions and a Buckeye squad that was not picked to finish in the top four of the Big Ten. Now that decision looks like a brilliant one as tonight’s game featured a showdown between the two teams atop the conference standings and the top two offensive teams in the Big Ten.
The game opened as expected with both teams trading baskets while playing at a high tempo. Penn State features a talented group of guards but took a page out of Minnesota’s playbook by attacking inside. With the game tied at 9 the inside attack started paying dividends as not only where the Nittany Lions making baskets, they were drawing fouls, igniting a 9 to 0 run to give Penn State an 18-9 lead six and half minutes into the game. The Buckeyes finally got their offense going but they couldn’t stop the Penn State attack for more than a possession or two at a time. OSU got the Penn State lead down to five at one point and to four at another point but both times the Nittany Lions came roaring back to quickly extend the lead. After the Buckeyes pulled to within four, 28-24, with seven minutes remaining, Penn State promptly went on 13 to 2 run to extend their lead to 41-26 with just under two to go. That margin survived the rest of the half and Penn State went into the locker room with a 45-30 lead.
After pulling off an impressive rally to beat Purdue on Sunday, the Ohio State women’s basketball team hosted Indiana. While the Hoosiers are in last place in the Big Ten, having yet to win a conference game, the Buckeyes found themselves facing a tougher test than expected when it was announced that senior point guard Samantha Prahalis would be unable to play tonight due to an illness, freshman guard Raven Ferguson got the start in her place.
The game got off to a slow start and Ohio State led 5-4 three minutes into the game before the Buckeyes kicked their offense into gear, scoring thirteen straight to take an 18-4 lead with just under thirteen minutes remaining in the half. The two teams began exchanging baskets at that point and the Buckeyes led 30-14 with five and a half to go. The Hoosiers weren’t ready to give up though, scoring 7 straight to cut the OSU lead back to single digits, 30-21, with two and a half to go. The teams traded baskets for the rest of the half and they headed to the locker room with Ohio State leading 34-27.
After suffering a disappointing upset loss at Illinois on Thursday where they had trouble with turnovers, the Buckeyes looked to get back on the winning track as they hosted 16th ranked and conference leading Purdue. Today was the annual breast cancer awareness day which has been re-branded from ‘Think Pink’ to ‘Play for Kay’ in honor of former North Carolina State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow who passed away in 2009 after her third re-occurrence of breast cancer. The big game and the important cause being supported today helped draw approximately 8,800 fans to the game, the largest crowd of the season.
The game opened exactly as expected for a matchup of two top 20 teams as Ohio State and Purdue went back and forth for the first 9 minutes of the game. Neither team could build more than a three point lead and with eleven minutes left in the half the Buckeyes lead 22-20. The Boilermakers defense had been harassing the Buckeyes all half and really clamped down at this point, keying an 11 to 2 run that game Purdue a 31-24 lead with just under six minutes remaining in the half. OSU finally got their offense going again but they couldn’t come up with defensive stops and Purdue went into halftime leading 37-31.
After two straight wins over teams that are contenders for the Big Ten title, today’s game against Illinois had all the makings of a trap game for Ohio State. The Illini came into the game winless in the conference and tied for last place. That winless record was a bit deceiving however as Illinois had already given scares to ranked Purdue and Penn State; in fact, the Illini had only been outscored in regulation by 11 points in their last 5 games combined.
The game opened as a back and forth affair as the two teams traded baskets. Illinois held a 15-14 lead about eight minutes into the game when Ohio State scored 11 straight to take a 25-15 lead. The Illini responded with an 11 to 5 run to cut the lead to 30-26 with just over six minutes remaining in the half. The two teams traded baskets for the rest of the half with the Buckeyes able to stretch their lead to 44-36 as the horn sounded for intermission.
The Ohio State women’s basketball team started of 2012 with the worst scheduled Big Ten home opener this afternoon as they hosted Iowa in a game that overlapped with the Gator Bowl. Fortunately a decent sized crowd showed up to support the team as they looked to continue the best start in program history.
The two teams opened the game going back and forth but Iowa then put together an early run of six straight to open a 9-4 lead. Ohio State responded and trimmed the Iowa lead to 11-8 but the Hawkeyes quickly re-extended the lead to 22-12 with thirteen minutes remaining in the half. Iowa was able to build the double-digit lead thanks to poor perimeter defense by the Buckeyes allowing them open looks. The Buckeyes added to their early problems by doing a poor job of rebounding on both ends of the floor. The Hawkeye offense began to cool off a bit at this point but so did the Buckeye offense and Iowa managed to extend its lead to 37-22 with five and half minutes to go in the half. With the game looking like it may get away from them, Ohio State found a spark and used some nice three-point shooting from Tayler Hill and Samantha Prahalis to close the half on a 17 to 3 run. While Ohio State still went into the half down 40-39, their first halftime deficit of the season, the late run got them right back into the game and got the crowd going.
The Ohio State women’s basketball team went undefeated through the non-conference portion of their schedule to get off to the best start in program history. Getting off to a start like that is always impressive but it is even more impressive as the achievement is even more impressive as the Buckeyes did it against a difficult schedule while adjusting to the graduation of the most prolific scorer and rebounder in program history. After a week off for Christmas, the Buckeyes returned to action tonight, opening the Big Ten portion of their schedule with a trip to Madison.
Ohio State jumped out a quick 5-0 lead but Wisconsin quickly tied the game with a pair of baskets. The Buckeyes responded by scoring seven unanswered to open up a 12-5 lead four minutes into the game. The fast pace of the game continued as the two teams began trading baskets with the Badgers slowly chipping away at the Buckeye lead before taking a 27-26 lead with five minutes remaining in the half. Ohio State took the lead right back thanks to a Tayler Hill three-pointer which ignited an 8 to 0 run that gave the Buckeyes a 34-27 lead. Wisconsin was not impressed though as they came right back with a 10 to 2 run to take a 37-36 lead with under a minute to go before halftime. A pair of free throws by freshman Maleeka Kynard gave Ohio State back the lead, 38-37, which is where the score stood as the two teams went into the locker room.