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.
Any thoughts that Southern Utah had of making this a game again were quickly dashed as Ohio State opened the second half with an 11 to 3 run that put the Buckeyes up 49-28 with just over four minutes having run off the clock. Ohio State was in full control at that point and the Buckeyes cruised for the rest of the game, slowly extending a lead that grew as high as 40 points. When the final buzzer sounded, Ohio State headed off the court with an 88-50 victory.
Ohio State shot 45% for the game, going 6 of 20 from beyond the arc. The Buckeyes did a great job of moving and taking care of the basketball, dishing out 23 assists on 32 made baskets while only committing 9 turnovers. Defensively the Buckeyes came up with 14 steal while forcing 26 turnovers.
Tayler Hill led Ohio State 24 points making this was the seventh game that she has scored more than 20 points this season. Hill also had 2 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block. No other Buckeye reached double figures but Samantha Prahalis, Amber Stokes, Darryce Moore, and freshman Raven Ferguson each contributed 9 points. Prahalis struggled with her shot, going 4 of 14, but contributed in other ways as she dished out 7 assists and came up with 5 steals and 6 rebounds. Ferguson added 2 steals, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists in her best game yet; she has really been coming on lately and will be seeing more and more floor time going forward, helping to give the starting guards more of a rest. Fellow freshman guard Maleeka Kynard had her best game of the season as well, scoring 6 points and coming up with 2 steals.
After struggling a bit in her first two games back from a possible concussion, freshman forward Kalpana Beach had a better game today. While she still struggled a bit with her shot, going 1 of 5, she got to the free throw line several times and finished the game with 7 points. She also grabbed 6 rebounds, tying her with Prahalis and sophomore forward Martina Ellerbe for the team high, and recorded a block.
Ohio State gave us a bit of a scare at the beginning of this one but responded well, took control of the game, and came away with an easy victory. While Tayler Hill was the star of the game, the rest of the team provided a nice, solid supporting cast with 12 different players scoring, 7 of them getting between 6 and 9 points. The deep OSU bench is starting to make its impact felt during this grueling schedule, scoring 37 of the 88 points in this game. Those of you who have followed OSU women’s basketball in recent years know that the team has relied primarily on its starters so it is wonderful to see this level of play and scoring from the bench. This bench will pay huge dividends in March, a time when OSU teams have traditionally become bogged down, showing the effects of fatigue.
Ohio State will get a bit of rest after playing games on back-to-back days, but not too much as they return to action Thursday night to host Washington State at 7:00pm. The Cougars will be the last non-conference opponent for the Buckeyes who will then get a week off before traveling to Wisconsin to begin Big Ten play.