Buckeyes backcourt finds help, knock off Huskers in battle of Big Ten elite
Facing a nationally-ranked opponent and one of the top teams in the Big Ten, the No. 10 Ohio State women’s basketball team (18-1, 5-1) knew it would need more than just the usual effort from star players Samantha Prahalis and Tayler Hill when it faced No. 20 Nebraska (15-3, 4-2) on Thursday night.
Photo by Jim Davidson
The Buckeyes found that effort in two different players in Amber Stokes and Ashley Adams.
The junior guard and sophomore center combined for 25 points. Combined with 21 points from Hill and 19 from Prahalis it was enough for OSU to outlast the Big Ten newcomers with an 82-68 win over the Cornhuskers at Value City Arena.
Prahalis, who also added nine assists to the Buckeyes’ effort, said that the help provided by Stokes and Adams was much welcomed.
“It’s great. It’s almost like I expect them to do it,” Prahalis said.
“Amber’s really finding her knack on offense like I knew she would and Ashley too. I just think it’s great when everyone gets into the mix.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
The help was especially needed in the first half, when Stokes and Adams both added six points apiece, yet the Buckeyes found themselves leading just 41-35 at intermission. The Huskers pulled down 14 offensive rebounds in the first half, which allowed them to add 11 second-chance points to an offense that was already thriving behind the scoring of forward Jordan Hooper and guard Lindsey Moore.
OSU cutdown Nebraska’s second-chance points in the second half when Adams pulled down eight of her 11 rebounds on Thursday night. Following intermission, the Huskers recorded just six more offensive rebounds.
“We just went after the ball more,” Adams said. “Let them take more shots so that we could rebound them.”
Scoring 13 points, the 6-foot-5 Adams recorded her second double-double of the year, exploiting a Huskers team that didn’t play a player taller than 6-foot-2. The height advantage also allowed Adams to block five Nebraska shots.
“For the most part I think we did a pretty well job,” Prahalis said of finding the OSU center. “Ash did good job finishing and she did a really good job blocking shots.”
The Buckeyes managed to increase their output from the center position without sacrficing their bread-and-butter, the fast break. OSU outran Nebraska to a 20-2 advantage in fast break points, with the Huskers not scoring on the break until the final minutes of the game.
“There’s a lot of ways to play basketball,” OSU coach Jim Foster said. “When the guards attract double-coverage, if the post players run to the rim, good things, probably good things are going to happen.”
A beneficiary of OSU’s full speed attack was Stokes, who like Adams, made her impact felt on both ends of the floor.
In addition to scoring 12 points, the junior from Gahanna pulled down five rebounds and took turns guarding Moore, who scored just four points in the second half.
“They always try to take out Sammy and Tayler, so I just have to play the role and step up and make those little shots,” Stokes said. “(Moore’s) a pretty good player. She kept getting me left and once I backed up a little bit off of her it was hard for her to create for herself.”
The increased attention on Moore and Hooper allowed Nebraska forward Emily Cady to score a career-high 24 points.
“I like our defense on two of their players and I didn’t like our defense on one of their players,” Foster said. “We’ll figure that out tonight and talk about it tomorrow.”
After the Buckeyes fix the defensive breakdowns that kept the Huskers close for the first 30 minutes on Thursday, they’ll turn their attention to Illinois (6-12, 0-5) who they’ll host at 2 p.m on Sunday.
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