Backcourt Helps Bucks Bounce Back Against Northwestern
By Ben Axelrod
COLUMBUS, Ohio — After suffering its first loss of the season at Michigan Saturday, the No. 11-ranked Ohio State women’s basketball team had to wait five days for a chance to regain its winning ways.
Make that five days and 15 minutes.
Thanks to a traffic delay caused by a Columbus visit from United States Vice President Joe Biden, the Buckeyes’ Thursday night tip-off with Northwestern (11-6, 1-3 Big Ten) occurred 15 minutes later than originally scheduled. The delayed start proved to be worth the wait for the Buckeyes (16-1, 3-1), who bounced back from their trip to Ann Arbor with a 82-72 win over the Wildcats at Value City Arena.
“We had a little bit more energy in this game compared to what we had at Michigan,” junior guard Amber Stokes said.
“We also played as a unit, the ball was moving, people were making hustle plays. We were just in it. We were pretty upset about the Michigan loss.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
Ohio State was paced by its star backcourt of Samantha Prahalis and Tayler Hill, both of whom were able to put aside disappointing showings at Michigan by separately dominating both halves of basketball for the Buckeyes.
After a 5-19 shooting performance against the Wolverines, Prahalis came out firing in the first half, scoring a quick and efficient 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting. The senior guard’s offensive outburst was matched by 14 first half points from Northwestern center Dannielle Diamant and was only good enough to give the Buckeyes a 38-35 lead heading into halftime.
The Wildcats limited Prahalis to just six points in the second half, giving her 20 total points for the game, but did so at the expense of letting Hill bust out of a shooting slump of her own. Following a 5-15 shooting performance at Michigan and a 2-8 first half start against Northwestern, Hill scored 19 points on 6-10 shooting to finish with a game-high 24 points on Thursday night.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“They’re as good of a backcourt as you’re probably going to see, not just in the Big Ten, but in college basketball,” Northwestern coach Joe McKeown said.
“They play like little kids in the playground and they play with that type of swagger.”
After battling back and forth for the lead throughout most of the second half, Hill’s most impressive spurt came late in the game during a run that finally shut the door on the pesky Wildcats.
With just over eight minutes remaining and the Buckeyes leading 55-54, the junior guard from Minnesota nailed a three that began a 14-6 OSU run that included 10 points from Hill.
“It was just like, finally,” Hill said when asked to describe how she felt after making the 3-point shot.
“You don’t erase a loss. I think you look at it and you learn from it.”
Ohio State head coach Jim Foster said that he wasn’t surprised by the difficulty Northwestern presented the Buckeyes for most of the game, and that it’s something his team needs to be prepared for throughout the remainder of the season.
“Every Big Ten game will be competitive,” Foster said with certainty in his voice.
“It’s a physical league, they sort of let you play, and you’ve got to figure it out.
The Buckeyes will only have to wait three days face more of that Big Ten toughness on Sunday when they’ll travel to East Lansing, Mich. to take on Michigan State (12-5, 4-0) at 4 p.m. (ESPN2).
Season Stats Year to Date