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 struggling on the boards for most of the season, Ohio State did a great job rebounding in the first half, outrebounding Minnesota 20-18 but more importantly, grabbing a dozen offensive rebounds. Unfortunately the Buckeyes could not take advantage of the second chance opportunities as they struggled to hit shots, shooting only 22% from the floor in the first half. Minnesota shot 51% from the floor but committed 13 turnovers and 12 fouls to help keep Ohio State in the game.
Ohio State opened the second half with 5 straight points by Samantha Prahalis but a quick three by Minnesota prevented the Buckeyes from seizing the momentum. After another basket by the Buckeyes, the Gophers went on a 9 to 3 run to take a 49-38 lead with just over twelve minutes left in the game. The two teams began trading baskets and mini-runs for the rest of the game. During that stretch Ohio State twice cut the Minnesota lead down to 4 points only to see the Golden Gophers come right back and stretch the lead back to double digits. In the end Minnesota walked away with a 76-65
Ohio State shot a bit better in the second half but still only hit 34% of their shots for the game. Tayler Hill led the team with 26 points, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Samantha Prahalis was close behind with 25 points, 3 assists, and 3 steals. No other Buckeye scored more than 6 points. Ashley Adams did a great job on the boards, grabbing 12 rebounds as well as getting 7 blocks. Amber Stokes also had an impressive rebounding day, grabbing 9 boards, 5 of them offensive rebounds.
A large part of this loss can be blamed on the poor shooting by the Buckeyes; you won’t win too many games shooting only 34%. Despite that OSU made runs and put the game back within easy reach several times in the second half but every time they did Minnesota got baskets. The Gophers had lots of success attacking the inside which in turn opened up opportunities on the outside. The youth in the frontcourt had not been much of an issue so far this season but today it proved costly. While bad shooting nights will happen, you have to continue to play defense and the Buckeye frontcourt struggled with that today.
Despite being in several close games this season, the Buckeyes had done a great job of showing poise under fire. Today that was not the case as the last three minutes of the game saw OSU essentially abandon their game plan in favor of throwing up desperation three pointers. For most of the second half the game was the Prahalis and Hill show and while the two guards are the stars of the team and are more than capable of taking over a game, they need to make sure to get the rest of the team involved as this will prevent defenses from keying on them. At the same time the other OSU players have to find ways to contribute even when they are not having the best of days.
Conference leader Purdue lost to Iowa yesterday so a win today would have moved Ohio State into a tie for first place. Instead, the Buckeyes fall into a tie with Nebraska for second place. OSU has over a week off until their next game when they host Wisconsin on Monday, February 6th at 7:30 pm on BTN. After struggling with their shooting for 3 of the last 4 halves, a week off will help give the team a chance to rest as well as get back to focusing on fundamentals. How the team, especially the younger players, handle that week off and the loss will determine how the rest of the season goes. Hopefully the Buckeyes will use this as a learning and motivating experience and come out looking for blood in the second half of the conference season.