Mad Scramble by Buckeyes Late Comes Up Short
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Raven Ferguson hit a three-pointer with eight seconds remaining in the game to give the Buckeyes a 56-55 lead. It was their first lead since they led 6-4 early in the first half.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Unfortunately for Ohio State (14-12, 4-9), their lead lasted all of 7.6 seconds. Minnesota's Rachel Banham hit a contested, double-clutch runner in the lane with 0.4 seconds to give the Gophers (16-11, 5-8) the 57-56 win.
Tayler Hill scored a game-high 25 points, but did it on just 5-17 shooting and 1-7 shooting from three-point range. She did finish 14-14 from the free throw line, however.
"We don’t have any all-stars on the team, so we need to get it together collectively," Hill said.
"We need to have other players contribute. We need to be able to hit open shots. We missed too many layups today. I think everyone on the team needs to have confidence in themselves."
The Buckeyes shot just 18-58 (31%) from the field, missing numerous shots in close, as well as open looks from outside. It was the continuation of an offensive struggle that has plagued Ohio State all season long.
That lack of production forced head coach Jim Foster to go with four guards much of the way, pitting Raven Ferguson against the Gopher power forwards. It's something that he is going to stick with as he searches for a lineup that will work.
"From here on, we plan on playing four guards," he said. "There’s no productivity right now. Everybody has had their chance to play."
The Buckeyes struggled to score in the first half, but they were helped by the fact that the Gophers struggled as well. In fact, going into halftime only trailing 26-20 despite playing so poorly almost gave Ohio State a little bit of momentum.
The two teams opened the second half by trading a few baskets. The Buckeyes tied it up at 35-35 via a 6-0 run, capped by two free throws and a layup by Hill.
The run was enough for Minnesota coach Pam Borton, who called a 30-second timeout to slow the momentum. The timeout worked for the Gophers, who then went on an 8-0 run over the next 90 seconds.
Ohio State fought back, cutting the lead to just two points when Hill sank a pair of free throws with just over four minutes to play. Minnesota had an answer, however, building their lead back up to five points with 1:06 to play.
Rachel Banham scores the game winner for the Gophers
Photo by Jim Davidson
A three-pointer by Ferguson with 19 seconds to play made it 55-53 Minnesota. A quick steal in the backcourt and three-pointer by Ferguson gave the Buckeyes the 56-55 lead. It was then that Banham took the inbounds pass and went the distance for her game winner.
"We’ve seen that many times," Borton said of Banham's game winner. "She had two people on her and she didn’t even hit the rim. It went straight through the net."
"[Rachel] Banham made a great shot," Foster said.
"It was double-clutch and she made it. We executed at the other end first with Raven Ferguson’s shot, and then we defended as best you can in that situation."
Amber Stokes and Ferguson both scored 10 points, giving the Buckeyes three scorers in double figures. Ashley Adams, Ameryst Alston and Darryce Moore were the only other Buckeyes to score in the game.
Ohio State had just seven assists, which is just under what Samantha Prahalis averaged all by herself last season for the Buckeyes.
The loss drops the Buckeyes into a tie for ninth place with Northwestern. Up next for Ohio State is a home contest on Monday February 25 against Michigan State.
· Ohio State is 13-4 this season when holding opponents under 60 points.
· The Ohio State defense only has allowed one team to shoot 50 percent or better from the field (Iowa; .517) this season. Minnesota shot 42 percent Thursday night.
· Senior Tayler Hill scored in double figures for the 59th consecutive game Thursday night with 25 points. The streak serves as the longest active streak in the Big Ten and fourth longest in Division I.
· Hill, the Big Ten’s career active scoring leader, has 1,912 career points, good for a tie for fifth place all-time in the Ohio State records book. Hill tied Tracey Hall.
· The game Thursday served as Hill’s 16th game this season with 20+points.
· Hill became just the second Buckeye (Samantha Prahalis) to record at least 1,900 points, 300 assists and 200 steals.
· Hill was 14-of-14 from the line, which is an Ohio State record. The previous best was a 13-of-13 performance, last recorded by Jessica Davenport Feb. 27, 2005.
· Hill has played 40+ minutes in 11 of her 12 Big Ten games, including a career-high 46 in the win over Wisconsin Feb. 7.
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