First Thoughts From a 82-72 Win Over Northwestern
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The #11 Buckeyes (16-1, 3-1) were coming off of their first loss of the season and needed to show that they weren't harboring any long-lasting effects from their weekend defeat at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines.
However, Northwestern (11-6, 1-3) didn't really feel much like cooperating.
They shot 54% from the field in the first half and 52% in the second half, finishing 27-51 (52.9%) for the game.
Had they been able to get more shots up, the probably would have won. However, getting shots up was a pretty difficult thing for them to do.
Ohio State shot the ball twelve more times than the Wildcats, and did it because they grabbed five more offensive rebounds than Northwestern and forced five more turnovers.
In fact, the turnovers were the difference in the game. It wasn't necessarily the number of turnovers, but rather what the Buckeyes did with the ball once they took it away.
Ohio State scored 30 points on 17 turnovers, meaning they converted Northwestern's turnovers into points way more often than not.
The Wildcats simply had no answer for the way Ohio State's defense fueled their offense, and it cost them what would have been a huge win.
First Thought - When Tayler Hill wants to—or when she's called upon to do so—she can score at will.
She finished with 24 points on the night, which betters her Big Ten-leading 21.3 points per game. However, she only had five points in the first half.
I tweeted at halftime that she would score around 15 points in the second half, but obviously I underestimated her.
In fact, she scored 13 points over the final 8:09 of the game alone.
Northwestern actually built a four-point lead with 14:46 to play in the game, but Hill sparked a 6-0 run with a jumper.
A few minutes later, Northwestern cut Ohio State's lead to one point, and that's when Hill went off. She hit a three-pointer to give her team more room, then sandwiched two layups and a free throw around a Sasha Dobranic jumper.
In the span of 1:13, the Buckeyes turned a one-point lead into an eleven-point lead, and the game was effectively over from that point on.
A Complete Thought - Point guard Samantha Prahalis had a complete night. She played all 40 minutes, scoring 20 points, grabbing a game-high eight rebounds, dishing out a team-high seven assists, and snagging a game-high three steals.
If there was something more that she could have done, nobody bothered to ask it of her.
She carried her team early, scoring 14 points in the first half, and then sat back and created for others in the second half.
She led when she needed to, and provided for others when they were open. Just like a senior point guard is supposed to do.
Harassing Thought - I always enjoy watching guard Amber Stokes play the game, especially defense.
She has to be one of the very best athletes in the conference, and is practically a one-person full court press. Even when she gets beat, she gets back in position before too much damage can be done.
She is always moving, on offense and defense. She's like the movie Speed—if she slows down, she'll explode.
Maybe the best part of her evening, however, was a dagger three-pointer that she hit to make it 75-67 with 1:29 to play. She doesn't hit many shots from deep, so it was great to see this one fall for her at a key moment.
Bread and Butter Thought - Northwestern battled for three-fourths of this game, and as mentioned above, they actually had a lead at one point.
Northwestern went up 43-41 with a three-pointer, and on Ohio State's subsequent possession, Tayler Hill never touched the ball. Instead, center Ashley Adams missed a jumper from the top of the key. The Wildcats grabbed that rebound and scored on their ensuing possession.
On the next Buckeye possession, again Hill never touched the ball, and again Ohio State went scoreless.
From that point on, however, they found Hill. They went to their best scorer when they needed her most and she responded with basket after basket.
Final Thought - While Ashley Adams had a couple of misses from the perimeter, I actually like that she has the range to hit an 18-footer fairly regularly.
What was even more encouraging was that when she went to the bench, Sasha Dobranic came in and hit two key jump shots of her own. She looked completely comfortable on the floor and always shot the ball in rhythm.
The ability of Ohio State's post players to hit jump shots from the perimeter will keep defenders from sagging into the paint and clogging the driving lanes for Hill, Stokes and Prahalis.
As long as the shots keep falling, the lanes will remain open, and the points will keep coming.
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