Strong Second Half Propels Buckeyes to First Round Victory in Big Ten Tournament
By Tony Gerdeman
Photo by Jim Davidson
Led by 25 points from Tayler Hill and 14 points from Ashley Adams, the Buckeyes (18-12) secured a 58-47 win in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament Thursday night.
It was the first time the Jim Foster-led Buckeyes have ever appeared in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament as Ohio State has always had a bye previously.
The Buckeyes shot just 35.8% from the field but it was enough because they held the Gophers to just 29.5% shooting. Guard Shayne Mullaney was held to 1-12 shooting from the field for Minnesota. The Gophers' starting guards combined to shoot just 10-35 (28.6%) from the field.
Minnesota guard Rachel Banham started the game in a strong way, sinking consecutive three-point shots to give the Gophers a 10-4 lead with 15:16 to play in the half.
The Buckeyes fought back, eventually taking a one-point lead following a pair of free throws by Hill to make it 13-12. A 10-2 run by Minnesota made it 22-15 with 5:34 to play. That lead was extended to nine points, via another Banham three-pointer, making it 25-16 with 4:07 to play.
Ohio State clamped down on defense, however, closing with an 8-0 run to cut Minnesota's halftime lead to just 25-24. Hill scored the half's final five points.
The Buckeyes began the second half in much the same way. Hill hit a pair of three-pointers in the opening minutes. The first basket tied the game and the second gave Ohio State a five-point lead.
"The ball was moving pretty well," Hill said.
"We just had to knock down open shots. Our coach did a good job making the adjustments of running different plays to get the floor spread and to get the ball in my hands so that I'm coming off the screen and the floor is a little more spread and the players are more occupied so they can't just eye in on me."
Adams added two baskets of her own shortly thereafter, stretching the Buckeye lead to seven points. Ohio State added seven more points to that margin with a layup by Hill, a three-pointer from Raven Ferguson and a layup by Amber Stokes. Ferguson finished the game with eight points and seven rebounds.
The Gophers could get no closer than nine points for the rest of the contest. The Buckeyes ended up outscoring Minnesota 11-0 on points off of turnovers in the second half alone.
Despite shooting just 1-6 from the field, freshman point guard Ameryst Alston added five points, 10 rebounds and four assists for the Buckeyes in their win.
"She's an old-fashioned player," Foster said of Alston.
"That's all I can tell you. I mean, she's going to end up shooting a lot of foul shots in her career. She's got incredible ball control and strength and body control. And she can change speeds and tempo. She's got a good instinct of how to play the game."
The Buckeyes have now won four games in a row, and all but one of those games was won by double figures. They will next play the tournament's No. 1 seed Penn State Friday night at 7:00 pm.
- Tonight marked the first-ever first-round game for Ohio State in Jim Foster’s 11 years as head coach.
- Foster tallied his 20th Big Ten Tournament victory, joining former Penn State coach Rene Portland as the only women’s coaches to reach 20 tournament wins.
- The Buckeyes are 31-14 in Big Ten Tournament games and 8-0 in first-round action.
- After going 1-7 in January, Ohio State is 7-2 in its last nine games. The Buckeyes have held opponents to 60 points or less in all nine games.
- Senior guard Tayler Hill has scored in double figures in 63 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the Big Ten. She finished tonight with a game-high 25 points. It is the third-straight game and 19th-time this season she has hit the 20-point mark.
- Hill (25) and junior center Ashley Adams (14) accounted for 39 of Ohio State’s 58 points (67.2 percent).
- Adams was an efficient 87.5 percent (7-of-8) from the field, adding eight rebounds and four blocks to her stat line in 36 minutes of play.
- Trailing 25-16 with 4:07 to play in the first half, the Buckeyes ended the half on an 8-0 run to go into the locker room down by just one. That run stretched to 27-4 in the second half as Ohio State built a 43-29lead with 10:36 remaining.
- Freshman guard Ameryst Alston tallied a career-high 10 rebounds.
- The Buckeyes are 4-1 against Minnesota in Big Ten Tournament play.
- This was the fourth time this season the Buckeyes have held an opponent under 50 points (Cincinnati, Lafayette, Indiana).
- Ohio State finished with just 10 turnovers, the fourth time this year they have limited their giveaways to 10 or fewer.
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