We have all seen our share of memorable performances from players, performances that will stick in our mind long after the final buzzer of the game has sounded. Those who attended or watched tonight’s women’s basketball game between Ohio State and Minnesota got to see such a performance tonight. After a humiliating loss to Penn State on Monday night, the Buckeyes were at a crossroads, would they rebound from that loss or would they still be thinking about that and fall to the Golden Gophers for a second time this season.
Tonight was senior night for Ohio State and the lone senior on the team, Samantha Prahalis, got the Buckeyes off to a good start by hitting a three-pointer on the team’s opening possession; that would be nowhere near the last that we would see of Sammy tonight. Prahalis scored OSU’s first eight points and after a pair of free throws by Tayler Hill, scored seven more as the Buckeyes built an early 17-10 lead in just over six minutes. A Tayler Hill three pointer extended the lead to ten and the Gophers wouldn’t pull within single digits for the rest of the half. When the horn for intermission sounded, Ohio State held a 38-26 lead and Prahalis had scored 22 points.
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 getting back to winning by defeating Wisconsin on Monday night, the Ohio State women’s basketball team headed to Urbana-Champaign tonight to face Illinois. Even though the Illini only had 2 conference wins coming into tonight, they are a much better team that their record suggests. They have been in almost every Big Ten game they’ve played and gave the Buckeyes a stiff test in Columbus a few weeks ago.
Ohio State got out to an early 10-6 lead with just less than four minutes having run off the clock but Illinois quickly showed that they are better than their record as they scored 12 straight to take an 18-10 lead with just over twelve minutes remaining in the half. The next two and half minutes saw the Buckeyes attack the inside and go on an 8 to 3 run to cut the Illini lead to 21-18. Illinois extended the lead back to 8 only to have OSU come right back and cut the lead to 26-24 with just under seven minutes left on the clock. The Illini would stretch the lead back to 8 but the Buckeyes cut into that a little right before the end of the half, sending the two teams in the intermission with Illinois holding a 34-29 lead.
In their last outing Ohio State suffered an upset at Minnesota for their second loss of the season. In that game the Buckeyes struggled to hit shots or come up with defensive stops at key moments. It has been 8 days since that loss and OSU has had plenty of time to work on fixing its weaknesses and tonight’s game against Wisconsin promised to show how well the Buckeyes took advantage of that long layoff.
Samantha Prahalis is the lone senior for Ohio State and she seemed to be particularly determined to get the Buckeyes back on the winning track as she scored the first six points of the game as the Buckeyes got out to a quick 8-0 lead. Wisconsin was not intimidated though as they quickly responded by knocking down a trio of three point shots to go on an 11 to 3 run to tie the game up at 11. OSU came right back though, taking advantage of some Wisconsin turnovers to go on a 16 to 2 run to take a 27-13 lead with six minutes remaining in the half. The Badgers responded by taking advantage a few Buckeye miscues and forced shots to go on a 10 to 2 run to cut the OSU lead to 29-23. Ohio State closed out the half on a 6 to 2 run to go into the locker room leading 35-25.
I want to start off today’s recap by first thanking the person responsible for scheduling today’s women’s game at Minnesota at the same time as the men’s game against Michigan; that is how you maximize viewers for the games. Now that the sarcasm is out of the way, let’s talk about the game. Today’s game was a homecoming for Tayler Hill who played high school ball just 4 miles south of the Gophers’ Williams Arena; Hill finished her high school career as the leading scorer in Minnesota girls’ history.
Minnesota got out to an early 12-6 lead thanks to 9 straight points. Ohio State came back and cut the Gopher lead to 14-13 with twelve minutes remaining in the half. The Gophers were not impressed though and used an 11 to 0 run to take a 25-13 lead with just under eight minutes remaining in the half. OSU took advantage of some turnovers and fouls by Minnesota to spark a 9 to 0 run that cut the lead to 25-22 but the Gophers quickly extended their lead back to seven points. The teams traded baskets for the rest of the half and the teams headed into the locker room with Minnesota leading 34-28.
After overcoming a tough test on Sunday against an Illinois team that was winless in the conference at the time, the Illini got their first Big Ten win of the year when they beat MSU tonight, Ohio State traveled to Bloomington to face the only other team who came into tonight without a conference win. The Buckeyes last visited Bloomington two years ago and were ranked #6 in the country at the time but that did not stop the Hoosiers from pulling off the upset. Tonight the #9 Buckeyes looked to do a better job.
Indiana jumped out to a quick 7-2 and flashbacks to that game two years ago, or the Illinois-MSU game earlier tonight, immediately came to mind. Both teams struggled to score but the Hoosiers managed to slowly extend their lead, going up 20-12 with six and half minutes remaining in the half. After looking a step slow and out of rhythm to start the game, the Buckeyes finally showed a bit of a spark, going on an 8 to 2 run to cut the Indiana lead to 22-20 with two minutes on the clock. An Indiana basket followed by an empty OSU possession halted the run but a Hoosier turnover on the ensuing possession led to open three-pointer from the corner by freshman guard Raven Ferguson which cut the lead to 24-23. Each team would hit one more basket in the half and the two teams headed into the locker room with Indiana leading 26-25.