Career-high from Prahalis helps Buckeyes outlast Badgers
After the No. 10 Ohio State women’s basketball team (21-2, 8-2) suffered its second loss of the season- a 76-65 loss at the hands of Minnesota OSU guard Samantha Prahalis felt that she could have done more to help her team.
Photo by Jim Davidson
On Monday night, the Buckeyes’ lone senior showed exactly what she meant.
Prahalis scored a career-high 34 points and recorded five assists to lead the Buckeyes to a 72-58 bounce back victory against Wisconsin (8-15, 4-7) at Value City Arena.
“I kind of wanted to come out aggressive,” Prahalis said. “Not necessarily was I passive in the game that we lost, but I felt like I could’ve been more aggressive. So today I kind of made it like a point to be aggressive from the start.”
The senior guard’s desire for aggression was apparent in more than just her words. Prahalis scored 11 of OSU’s first 16 points and a total of 18 first half points helping the Buckeyes to a 35-25 halftime advantage.
“My shot felt good so that’s why I was in kind of a flow this game,” Prahalis said.
Photo by Jim Davidson
OSU’s all-time leader in assists opened up the second half with 9 of the Buckeyes’ first 13 points, but five Wisconsin 3-pointers in the span of six-and-a-half minutes made it difficult for OSU to pull away. After Wisconsin guard Taylor Wurtz found forward Ashley Thomas for a second half lay-up, the Buckeyes found themselves up by just three points with 12 minutes to play.
“That’s the reason they came back is ‘cause they were shooting all these threes,” Prahalis said. “They were making them- credit to them- but yeah, we just need to get out a little quicker.”
What the OSU perimeter defense lacked, its interior defense made up for. The Buckeyes recorded 12 blocks- the most in the past ten years of the program- with five attributed to to sophomore center Ashley Adams. A combined six more came from Tayler Hill, Darryce Moore, and Martina Ellerbe.
“Martina’s a very good shot blocker and Darryce has gotten better at it,” OSU coach Jim Foster said. “I think twelve’s a pretty significant number.”
With the help of its inside defense, the Buckeyes put together a 16-3 run that included eight points from OSU guard Tayler Hill and put them up by 15 points with less than five minutes remaining in the game. Foster attributed the OSU run to what was happening on its defensive end of the floor.
“We just hit an area defensively where we weren’t playing at the level we needed to play at,” Foster said. “We got much more aggressive at that end of the floor.”
Thanks to an off-week that was sandwiched in between OSU’s loss to Minnesota and its win on Monday night, the Buckeyes victory over the Badgers gave them their first win since Jan. 26. Prahalis described having to chew on a loss for eight days as “rough” but said that the schedule was actually advantageous for her team.
“The bye came at a pretty good time,” Prahalis said. “We’re not that good, you know, we still have some work to do. So I thought it came at a good time.”
Despite Prahalis’ critical assessment of the team, the Buckeyes still find themselves a half-game out of first place for the Big Ten lead, with a Thursday match-up at Illinois (8-16, 2-9) looming.
“Teams have to make up their minds at this stage of the season that have not had success is it worth the investment? And Wisconsin obviously thinks it’s worth the investment and Illinois obviously thinks it’s worth the investment,” Foster said. “I’d much rather be playing people that are engaged than not.”
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