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.
Indiana managed to quickly cut the Ohio State lead to 36-31 to start the second half but the Buckeyes were not impressed, putting together a 15-3 run to extend their lead to 51-34 with thirteen minutes remaining and take solid control of the game. The Buckeyes never relinquished control as they cruised toward the end, their lead growing as high as 26 points in the process. When the final horn sounded Ohio State had a 75-54 victory for their second win over a team from Indiana in less than a week.
Tayler Hill led the Buckeyes with 27 points, shooting an amazing 9 of 11 from the field which included an unbelievable 7 of 8 from beyond the arc. Hill also added 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks. She was joined in double figures by Amber Stokes and Kalpana Beach who scored 14 and 13 points, respectively. Stokes looked Prahalis-like at times as she dished out 7 assists while Beach grabbed 8 rebounds and each of them got a block. Freshman guard Raven Ferguson scored 6 points in her first ever start and she dished out 3 assists, though her youth showed as she committed 5 turnovers. Ashley Adams only scored 4 points but she pulled down 8 boards and recorded an impressive 5 assists.
When it was announced that Samantha Prahalis would not be starting tonight I immediately wondered how the OSU offense would fare without her. While Tayler Hill is the team’s leading scorer, she had struggled recently and Prahalis had been the main one to pick up the slack. More importantly Prahalis is the primary person who brings the ball up the court and her passing ability really helps trigger the offense. As it turns out, I had no need to worry as the Buckeye offense did just fine. Hill shrugged off her recent struggles as did Kalpana Beach, who played her best game since before she suffered a concussion against Oklahoma. While OSU did commit more turnovers than normal, a lot of these likely related to Prahalis’s absence, they made up for it by shooting a scorching 55% from the field.
The Buckeye defense held Indiana to 28% shooting from the field thanks in part to 7 blocked shots. While OSU only forced 12 turnovers, they made them count as they turned those turnovers into 18 points.
A major weakness for Ohio State this season has been their struggles on the boards, the team routinely finding themselves getting out-rebounded by their opponent. A big part of this is due to the young frontcourt which is still working on effectively blocking out. The three guard lineup that the Buckeyes usually employ adds to this as at times the guards are not doing a good job to get in position to grab rebounds. Tonight’s rebounding effort looked nothing like what we have seen this season though as the Buckeyes dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Hoosiers 47-29. OSU pulled down 15 offensive boards which they turned into 10 second chance points. This marks a major improvement for the team and hopefully is a sign of things to come.
Tonight’s win keeps Ohio State in second place in the Big Ten, a half-game behind Penn State who beat Purdue tonight. The Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions will meet in their next game with first place in the conference on the line. The game will be in Happy Valley and will pose a huge test for the Buckeyes who have not played nearly as well on the road as they have at home. OSU will need to continue to have players besides Hill and Prahalis step up and will need to rebound like they did tonight if they want to win. The game between #9 Ohio State and #12 Penn State will be on Monday at 7:00pm and will be broadcast on ESPN2.