First Thoughts From an 84-66 Loss at Penn State
By Tony Gerdeman
In a battle for first place in the Big Ten between #8 Ohio State (23-4, 10-4) and #11 Penn State (22-5, 12-3) in State College, only one team showed up to play 40 minutes of basketball, and that was the home team Lady Lions.
With the win, Penn State clinched at least a share of the Big Ten regular season championship.
It was a game that started up-tempo, which is the Buckeyes' preferred style of play, but the Lady Lions took things up a notch and ran Ohio State right out of the gym.
The crazy thing is that the Buckeyes actually outshot Penn State 40.3% from the field to 38.2%. However, the Lions grabbed an unbelievable 29 offensive rebounds on their 47 missed shots.
They outscored the Buckeyes 29-0 in second-chance points.
Ohio State could still win a share of the regular season conference crown, but they would need Penn State to lose their last game, and the Buckeyes would need to win out against Minnesota and at Nebraska to finish the season.
When the game started and Penn State immediately put their offense in overdrive, I thought for sure that the Buckeyes would be more than happy to run with them.
Ohio State ran with the Lady Lions, but they just couldn't finish. In fact, they couldn't even get out of their own way.
The Buckeyes were a team that looked out of sync early on, and never managed to find a groove as the game went on.
Samantha Prahalis had eight assists, but she also had five turnovers. Tayler Hill, the league's leading scorer, never really got going, scoring 16 points on just 5-12 shooting.
Things weren't helped by the fact that Amber Stokes only played twelve minutes because of foul trouble.
Jim Foster was searching for combinations that worked, but never actually found any.
Nearly half of Penn State's 60 rebounds were on the offensive glass. Every shot that went up for the Lady Lions had a better chance of being rebounded by a teammate than an opponent.
Yes, they got nearly every bounce, but that is easier to do when Buckeye feet are glued to the hardwood as shots are going up.
Bodies were never put on bodies, and offensive rebounds were a dime a dozen for Penn State. So much of the Lady Lions' offense came from the baseline, that when shots were missed, the weakside was almost always left open, which led to more offensive rebounds.
Penn State was even getting offensive rebounds on missed free throws. They didn't even have to seek out the ball--the ball found them.
One of the reasons that Foster was searching for working combinations is because nobody was boxing out. Foster has said in the past that offensive rebounding is an overrated stat because it doesn't tell you what an opponent did with the ball after they rebounded it. Well, Penn State happened to outscore the Buckeyes by 29 points with their offensive rebounds.
Ohio State was slow of foot all night long, but no where was it more apparent than on the glass.
Ohio State center Ashley Adams and power forward Kalpana Beach both had rough nights on defense. In fact, if you were a post player for the Buckeyes on Monday night, somebody got the better of you for most of the evening.
Penn State's two post players, Nikki Greene and Mia Nickson, each had 15 rebounds, and both dominated throughout the game. Green finished with 25 points and Nickson added 18. The Buckeyes had no answers, and everybody knew it.
Most of the time Adams is a weapon for the Buckeyes, but for much of the game tonight the Lady Lions went around her without much of any concern. She still blocked five shots, but Penn State never lost their aggression.
Penn State set out to attack the paint and they succeeded at every single turn. It's a situation that will need to be addressed by Foster in the event that it is repeated by every other future opponent.
It really can't be stated enough because it's one of the most unbelievable statistics I've ever seen, but Penn State had 29 offensive rebounds tonight. By comparison, Ohio State finished with 32 rebounds total.
Even if half of those rebounds are chalked up to fortunate bounces, the rest goes simply to effort. The Buckeyes just looked listless tonight.
They've got a few days to regroup, and fortunately they'll get to do it at home against a below average Minnesota Gopher team on Thursday.
But it will be interesting to see if this is how the Buckeyes will be attacked from here on out.
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