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.
Tonight’s game against Washington State marked the end on the non-conference portion of the Ohio State women’s basketball schedule. After seeing the departure of Brittany Johnson, last season’s best three-point shooter, and Jantel Lavender, leading scorer and rebounder in program history, at the end of last season, there were justifiably a lot of questions surrounding this year’s team. With the team having to adjust to the loss of those two key starters and facing a difficult schedule, many people expected the team to struggle a bit and go through some growing pains, as was reflected by OSU opening the season unranked for the first time in years. Fortunately the team did not listen to those questions and instead put together the best start in program history, entering tonight 12-0 and ranked #11/13 in the country. Tonight’s game against Washington State would be yet another test for the Buckeyes as the Cougars, despite their 6-5 record, were a good team that had already faced three ranked teams on the year, two of which they player very tightly, losing by 2 points to 24th ranked Gonzaga and by 4 to 14th ranked Louisville.
Ohio State women’s basketball coach Jim Foster has said several times this season that college students have all the energy in the world and the schedule that he has put together this season seems designed to test the validity of that statement. After playing three games in one week around Thanksgiving, the Buckeyes are currently in the middle of an even busier stretch of their schedule as today’s game against Southern Utah was their third game in four days, a stretch that also included a red eye flight home from California.
Ohio State looked sluggish to open the game, likely a result of their busy schedule, and found themselves trailing Southern Utah 9-4 four minutes into the game. The Buckeyes started to turn things over the next four minutes, finally tying the game at 13. The Thunderbirds briefly retook the look before a Samantha Prahalis jumper and a Tayler Hill three-pointer gave Ohio State an 18-15 lead with eleven and half remaining in the first. After another three-pointer by Hill, the two teams began to trade baskets; Southern Utah twice cut the OSU lead to four points but with six and half minutes remaining until intermission, Ohio State led 30-23. At this point the Buckeyes put together eight unanswered points to take control of the game. The Thunderbirds ended the Buckeye run with a layup with two minutes to go but neither team managed to score again in the half and Ohio State held a 38-25 lead as the two teams went into the locker rooms.
I start this recap with an apology for not posting a recap of the women’s basketball game against California on Saturday as I ended up in Chicago that day without internet access and a dead cell phone battery. The trip to face the Golden Bears in Berkley proved to be an eventful one for the Buckeyes who survived a late rally, and three potentially game tying shots in the final 10 seconds, to hang onto a 77-75 victory. Cal is a great rebounding team and they took advantage of Ohio State’s weakness on the boards by out-rebounding the Buckeyes 43 to 25. Still the Buckeyes once again found a way to win a close game, once again showing a toughness that had been rare for this program in recent years. The win was a significant milestone for coach Jim Foster who recorded his 750th career win.
Today the Buckeyes faced Charlotte in a rare Monday afternoon game; the game originally was a normal evening game but the 49ers had messed up with the scheduling of their return flight, setting it to take-off before the game would have been over. Even after the game was rescheduled so that the Charlotte team could actually be there the whole time, this game did not present nearly as big of a challenge to the Buckeyes as Saturday’s game did. The biggest question was how much energy would OSU have after taking a red eye flight back from California on Saturday and having only one day to recover. That question was quickly answered as the Buckeyes built a 27-14 lead by the midway point of the first half, then they really turned it on, scoring 17 straight points over the next five minutes to widen the lead to 44-14. Ohio State then coasted into the half with a 46-24 advantage.