New Look Buckeyes Start Season in Style
By Tony Gerdeman
Photo by Jim Davidson
A new era of Ohio State women's basketball got their season underway with a 78-51 win over Tennessee State (0-2). The Buckeyes—the youngest team in the league—were led by their veteran backcourt of Samantha Prahalis and Tayler Hill who each scored a team-high 17 points.
Without four-time Big Ten Player of the Year Jantel Lavender, the new-look Buckeyes relied on ball movement and effort to make up for Lavender's loss in scoring and rebounding.
That ball movement led to 48 points in the first half and the effort saw nine different Buckeyes pull down at least two rebounds. Ohio State outrebounded Tennessee State 46-33 for the game.
“The first half was terrific,” said Buckeye coach Jim Foster.
“But that's what the games are for, just figuring that stuff out as we go along, what our highest percentage shots are and where our people are on the floor. There's a lot to think about and process with so many different people in the game because you have so many different attributes.”
The Lady Tigers actually opened the game with a three-pointer from Jasmin Shuler to start out with a 3-0 lead, but the Buckeyes then went on a 23-2 run which saw points come from the entire starting five. Freshman guard Raven Ferguson came into the game with 14:34 remaining in the first half and scored a quick five points on a layup and three pointer as well.
Ferguson scored ten points in the first half on 4-5 shooting and pulled down four rebounds.
Ohio State opened up a 30-point lead at 44-14 with 4:20 remaining in the half on a pair of free throws by freshman Shelbi Honeycutt. Honeycutt was one of four true freshmen to see the court in the first half. All told, twelve Buckeyes saw action in the first 20 minutes.
Ohio State led 48-21 at the breakand did so in dominating fashion. They shot 53% from the field and held Tennessee State to just 30%. The Buckeyes had nine offensive rebounds and fourteen second-chance points.
The second half, however, was a different story. Ohio State led by 27 points at the half, and led by 27 points at the end of the game as well. Tennessee State stayed with the Buckeyes basket for basket in the second half.
“I thought we started the game very aggressively,” said Foster.
“I think it's difficult to play twelve people and continue to have continuity on offense, and I think that's what probably showed in the second half.
“I think that one of the things a young team needs to learn is that when you come in at halftime and sit down, you've got to continue to be engaged when you go out there for the second half regardless of what the score is.”
The Lady Tigers completely turned the tables on the Buckeyes in the final twenty minutes of the game. After being outscored 26-6 in the paint in the first half, they outscored the Buckeyes 14-8 in the second half.
“I’m very pleased with the second half effort that my team made tonight,” said Tennessee State coach Tracee Wells. “They scored 30 points in the second half and we scored the same.”
“We knew coming into the game that they were gong to be finding their identity as a team. We understood that this was going to be a test for them to figure out who works best in those positions. We just wanted to get out there and put five people out in front of their five.”
There was a scary moment at the 8:58 mark of the second half when Prahalis went down hard and was writhing on the floor in pain. It looked pretty serious, but she was able to be helped off the court under her own power. After receiving treatment for a few minutes, she returned to the game at the 5:36 mark.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“I got caught in the air and I think someone took me out and I fell,” explained Prahalis, who also dished out six assists on the afternoon, “and then someone stepped on my ear and then I cramped up. It was all three.”
Freshmen Kalpana Beach—who got the start—and Raven Ferguson combined to score twenty points and grab fourteen rebounds.
The Buckeyes finished 26-54 (48.1%) from the field, but were just 3-11 (27.3%) from behind the three-point line.
Up next for Ohio State is an early evening tip (6:00 pm) against Temple Friday November 18.
Ohio State has won its last 17 season openers. The Buckeyes have not dropped a season opener since 1994 and a home opener since 1985, a 78-76 loss to Texas. All-time, Ohio State is 37-10 in season opening games.
In just its second meeting against Tennessee State, Ohio Stated improved to 2-0 following the win Sunday. The first meeting was an 88-41 win in 2007.
Ohio State is 141-13 at home overall under Jim Foster and 114-9 since the start of the 2004-05 season.
Ohio State held Tayla Foster, the Tennessee State leading scorer from a year ago (11.6 ppg) to two points Sunday.
2011-12 Big Ten preseason co-player of the year Samantha Prahalis and Tayler Hill led the Buckeyes with 17 points each vs. Tennessee State.
All four freshmen – Kalpana Beach, Shelbi Honeycutt, Maleeka Kynard and Raven Ferguson – saw playing time. Ferguson paced the newcomers with 21 minutes and also had eight rebounds to lead all Buckeyes. Beach started the game and put up 10 points and six rebounds in just 17 minutes.
Sophomore Ashley Adams recorded six blocked shots – one shy of her career best.
Redshirt sophomore Aleksandra Dobranic scored her first points since Nov. 25, 2009vs. Tennessee State . Dobranic did not play last season because of injury.
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