Prahalis Leads Second-Half surge In Win Over LSU
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Senior point guard Samantha Prahalis scored 28 points, handed out eight assists, grabbed eight rebounds and added a couple of steals in leading #18 Ohio State (5-0) to a 77-68 win over #20 LSU (3-3).
Photo by Jim Davidson
Prahalis hit six of twelve three-point attempts, including five in a row to keep the Lady Tigers at bay. Fellow guard Tayler Hill added 23 points, including hitting all twelve of her free throws.
The Buckeyes got off to a great start in the first half thanks to Prahalis and freshman forward Kalpana Beach. The pair scored twelve of Ohio State's first fourteen points in leading the Buckeyes to a 14-4 lead just five minutes into the game.
LSU fought back quickly however, and took a 20-18 lead on a three-pointer from All-Conference forward LaSondra Barrett, who finished with thirteen points on just 2-13 shooting.
The next nine minutes saw three lead changes and neither team having more than a four-point advantage. Two free throws from Barrett late in the half made it a 32-30 lead for the Buckeyes at the intermission.
The second half started just like the first with Prahalis drilling a three-pointer, but LSU would fight back to take a 38-37 lead. Then, as if on a loop, Prahalis hit her third three-pointer in a row to give Ohio State a 40-38 lead to stop the Lady Tiger momentum with 15:34 to play.
The game continued on closely until consecutive trips down court led to consecutive Prahalis three pointers, giving the Buckeyes a 58-52 lead with 7:53 remaining.
“I was feeling it and they were getting me great shots," Prahalis said.
"They were just finding me and I happened to have the hot hand tonight. It might not be me tomorrow, but they were finding me.”
Then, with just over three minutes to play and the shot clock winding down, Tayler Hill hit a bail-out three that saw the ball bounce off of the back of the rim, and drop back through the basket to give Ohio State a 71-65 lead.
“That was just a timely play and a smart play by Tayler," said Buckeye coach Jim Foster.
"And believe this or not, but we work on long threes everyday. We have a segment of our practice where we shoot threes about seven or eight feet behind the three-point line. There's a method to our madness.”
Ohio State would never trail again after that shot, and would stretch their lead out to nine points, which was their largest margin since the initial ten-point lead when it was 14-4 early on.
The Buckeyes held LSU to 28-68 (41.2%) shooting from the field, but did get outrebounded 41-31, including 19-7 on the offensive glass.
LSU was outscored 45-38 in the second half, and after forcing ten turnovers in the first half, they could only manage to force four in the second.
“When you're playing against two really good guards, you've got to understand that they're going to continue to come at you," said LSU coach Nikki Caldwell.
"I thought that we played a little bit more hesitant. I didn't feel the same aggressive play in the second half. And I definitely didn't feel like we were committed to defending them and disrupting the basketball like we were in the first half.”
“I just thought we were tentative in the first half," explained Foster.
"We were taking shots and not attacking. In the second half we attacked. We had a lot of good ball movement. People were cutting hard and it creates opportunities to take people off the dribble and get to the basket. We just were tentative in the first half.”
Ohio State was 14-15 from the free throw line over the final ten minutes of the game. Hill was 10-10 in that stretch. She and Prahalis combined to outscore LSU's starters 51-48 by themselves.
“We are veterans," Prahalis said of herself and Hill.
"We have trust in eachother. I have 100% trust in Tayler and she has trust in me. For us to be good, it starts with us two. We have to move the ball, we have to attack. We have to do what's needed to win.”
Prahalis certainly did that in this game. Her three pointers all came at the right time. She set the tone in each half with them, and extended leads in crunch time with others. Her eight assists fit in just as well. She was not only creating for herself, but everybody else as well.
"She's a great player," Hill said of Prahalis.
"She had eight rebounds, eight assists and only two turnovers with 28 points. You can't ask for more from a point guard. She's the smallest player on the court but has the biggest heart. It's not a surprise at all, she plays this way.”
The question was then asked after the game if this was one of Prahalis' best games as a Buckeye.
“Yeah, because of the timeliness of her baskets and her leadership," answered Foster.
"People have a tendency to put a label on somebody and to keep it there. She is not the same person that played here as a freshman, sophomore or junior. She has matured here every year, and she's taken a lot responsibility on her shoulders this year and I think she's done an absolutely terrific job of being the leader."
Up next for the Buckeyes is a home date on Wednesday November 30 against Florida State at 8:30 pm on BTN.
Season Stats Year to Date
· Ohio State is now 4-3 all-time vs. LSU and has won back-to-back games against the Lady Tigers. In addition to the 77-68 win Sunday, the Buckeyes claimed a 59-55 victory at LSU last season.
· Ohio State improved to 50-5 in the month of November under head coach Jim Foster. With the win Sunday, the Buckeyes are now 5-0 in November this season.
· Ohio State is 145-13 at home overall under Jim Foster and 118-9 since the start of the 2004-05 season.
· After scoring 77 points, Ohio State has scored 70 or more points in all five games this season, including a season best 84 points vs. Stony Brook Nov. 25 (84-37).
· Shooting 22 percent from the 3-point line in the first half, Ohio State shot 63 percent in the second half and was 7-of-17 for the game (41 percent).
· Senior guard Samantha Prahalis made a career best six 3-pointers on 12 attempts, which also served as a tie for her career high. Prahalis was 9-for-19 shooting and after connecting on all four free throws, she led all scorers with 28 points in 40 minutes. Prahalis also tied her career high in rebounds with eight.
· Junior guard Tayler Hill was a career-high 12-for-12 from the free throw line, shot 50 percent (5-for-10) and had 23 points – 19 in the second half – in 39 minutes.
· Freshman forward Kalpana Beach scored a personal-best 13 points and was 6-of-8 from the field. Beach also made three blocks and pulled down six rebounds in a career high 35 minutes.
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