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.
Ohio State quickly extended their lead to seventeen points before Minnesota scored four straight to cut the OSU lead to 45-32 just three and half minutes into the second half. Any hopes of a Gopher comeback were quickly erased by Prahalis who hit three-pointers on consecutive trips down the floor to give the Buckeyes a 51-34 lead and OSU never looked back. Prahalis and the Buckeyes kept pouring it on and with a three-pointer with just over six minutes remaining in the game, Prahalis tied the Ohio State single game scoring record of 40 points that had been held by the great Katie Smith. Prahalis then went on a bit of a scoring drought and what had seemed like a guaranteed record suddenly looked in jeopardy. The drought ended four minutes later as Prahalis stepped to the line and hit a pair of free throws before exiting the game as the new OSU single game scoring record to chants of “Thank you Sammy.” The Buckeyes continued to cruise right along and when the final horn sounded, OSU had earned revenge on Minnesota with an 81-56 victory.
Samantha Prahalis led the Buckeyes with perhaps the greatest performance in OSU history and one of the best performances in Big Ten history. Prahalis’s 42 points set an Ohio State single game scoring record and she added 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. Perhaps even more impressive was the fact that she did all of this without committing a single turnover. It isn’t unusual for players to put together great performances in their senior night game but the performance from Prahalis tonight goes far beyond that, easily becoming the greatest single game performance I have ever seen from a Buckeye. Prahalis hit 15 of 27 shots from the field, going an impressive 7 of 12 from beyond the arc.
Tayler Hill was the only other Buckeye to reach double figures, scoring 16 points while also grabbing 5 rebounds, recording 3 assists, and 2 steals. Center Ashley Adams was held scoreless but grabbed 9 rebounds and recorded 2 blocks.
Despite Ohio State scoring 81 points, they only shot 38% from the field. The Buckeyes held Minnesota to only 28% shooting while out-rebounding the Golden Gophers 43 to 39. The Buckeyes also forced 18 turnovers while only committing 8. The rebounding performance from OSU was welcome relief after their poor performance against Penn State. If the Buckeyes can keep up this energy on the boards the odds of them winning the Big Ten tournament and making a deep run in March will go way up.
Tonight’s win guaranteed Ohio State at worst a second place finish in the Big Ten and locked up the #2 seed in the Big Ten tournament. The Buckeyes can still win a share of the conference title with a win at Nebraska on Sunday and a Penn State loss to Minnesota. More importantly though is that the Buckeyes continue the momentum from tonight’s win. While Samantha Prahalis dominated the game, the rest of the team did a much better job playing defense and rebounding than we have seen lately. If they can keep up this level of intensity and focus in those areas of the games then OSU has a chance to have an ending to the season that is worthy of their record setting start to the year. Ohio State closes the regular season with a trip to Nebraska. The game will tip at 4:00pm and will be shown on BTN.