Hill’s Homecoming Spoiled by Gophers
By Ben Axelrod
Aside from the final score, Ohio State guard Tayler Hill’s homecoming was nearly perfect.
The Buckeyes’ junior guard, and Minnesota native, scored 26 points and recorded five assists and three steals in Minneapolis, but her effort wasn’t enough to prevent the No. 9 Ohio State women’s basketball team (20-2, 7-2) from dropping its second game of the season, a 76-65 road loss to Minnesota (12-11, 4-5) on Sunday.
Hill scored 12 of her 26 points in the first half, but received little help from her teammates with Samantha Prahalis scoring six points on 2-of-11 shooting and Amber Stokes and Ashley Adams combining for the Buckeyes only other nine points before intermission. The Golden Gophers took a 34-28 lead into halftime on the heels of 20-11 run and eight first half points from guard Rachel Banham.
"Minnesota did a great job on executing their shots this game. We were unfocused, unprepared and we took a lot of early shots,” OSU coach Jim Foster said after the game.
"They played harder and worked harder then we did today."
Prahalis opened up the second half with five consecutive OSU points to bring the Buckeyes within a point, but Minnesota’s freshman guard was just warming up. Banham made a 3-point shot and later sank three consecutive free throws in the midst of a 15-5 Minnesota run that put the Gophers up by 11 points with 12 minutes left in the game.
From there, Hill and Prahalis took matters into their own hands, combining for 19 points over the course of a 21-14 run that brought the score to a 63-59 Minnesota advantage after consecutive Prahalis 3-point jumpers. Aside from an Emily Harmon jump shot, no Buckeye other than Hill or Prahalis scored in the second half against the Gophers.
The lack of scoring outside of Ohio State’s big two proved to be problematic for the Buckeyes. Banham scored six more points—giving her 20 points total for the game—for a Minnesota team that used a 13-3 run to push its lead to 14 points with just over a minute remaining in the game.
"We didn't get the shots we wanted,” Prahalis said of the OSU offense on Sunday.
The loss left Hill—who is Minnesota’s all-time leading scorer in high school basketball history—unsatisfied with her return to her home state.
"It’s only special playing here because of my friends and family,” Hill said. “We need to get back to the little things."
The loss puts the Buckeyes a game back of Purdue (18-4, 8-1) for first place in the Big Ten standings. OSU will look to get back on track on Monday, Feb. 6 when it will host Wisconsin (7-13, 3-5).
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