Second-Half Collapse Dooms Buckeyes Yet Again
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — #8 Penn State (17-2, 7-0) outscored the Buckeyes 43-19 in the second half to erase OSU's nine-point halftime lead on their way to a 71-56 win over Ohio State (11-9, 1-6).
Buckeye guard Tayler Hill was the game's high scorer with 28 points, but she shot just 2-8 from the field in the second half. Penn State had three scorers in double figures, led by guards Maggie Lucas with 18 and Alex Bentley with 16. Nikki Greene added 11 points and 13 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive glass.
"I thought we played with more energy, focus and trust in the second half," said Penn State coach Coquese Washington.
"We didn’t play together on either end of the floor in the first half. But that confidence after halftime allowed us to execute our game plan better. Energy comes from within. When we are at home we have the crowd and the band to get us going. On the road you have to find the will to win and the focus to be successful. We didn’t have it the first half but we found it."
Penn State got their offense going early, breaking out to a 7-0 lead, with Bentley and Greene responsible for all seven points. The Buckeyes quickly answered with an 11-0 run, sparked by the return of senior guard Amber Stokes, who had missed the previous four games with a knee injury.
Hill's third three-pointer of the half gave Ohio State a 17-14 lead with 12:05 remaining, and the game remained close for the next 10 minutes. A layup by Hill with 1:54 left in the half started a 10-0 run for the Buckeyes. Ameryst Alson would score the next five points before Hill ended the half with a three-pointer, making it 37-28. She scored 18 points in the first half.
Hill started the second half with a layup, but from that point on, it was all Penn State. The Lady Lions went on an 11-0 run, helped by five points from Lucas. The 39-39 tie was broken by a layup from Aleksandra Dobranic with 15:58 to play. It would give Ohio State their final lead of the game.
Penn State went on a 9-0 run to capture a 48-41 lead, and would eventually build a 58-47 lead with 8:40 to play. The Buckeyes were able to cut the lead to just five points via a three-point play from Darryce Moore and a three-pointer from Hill. Penn State would close the game on a 13-3 run however to stifle the Buckeyes' last hope.
Ohio State turned the ball over 11 times in the second half alone, and only pulled down 13 rebounds after grabbing 22 in the first half. Penn State only turned the ball over four times in the second half, and also grabbed nine offensive rebounds.
"We have to play 40 minutes," said Buckeye coach Jim Foster.
"I think having everyone back is being able to take a step in the right direction every day. We need to be able to put Amber [Stokes] in for 40 minutes so we don’t have to have Tayler [Hill] on the ball. Tayler is more effective away from the ball and so are we as a team. The floor becomes a lot bigger because of her success and it allows Ameryst [Alston] and Stokes to get to the basket and create opportunities."
Alston was the only other Buckeye in double figures, scoring 12 points. She grabbed five rebounds, but also had six turnovers as the Buckeyes struggled with Penn State's defensive pressure in the second half.
Center Ashley Adams played all 40 minutes and came away with 12 rebounds, five points, four assists and four blocks. Stokes scored four points in her return. Raven Ferguson went scoreless, missing all four of her field goal attempts in her 16 minutes of play.
"Mentally, we have to be there," Alston said.
"We have to pick up where we started. We started with great intensity in the first half and it didn’t carry over into the second half. We can only move forward and not dwell on the past. No one in that locker room wants to lose. We can do nothing but build from here."
Up next for the Buckeyes is a home game against Nebraska on Thursday January 31 at 8:30 pm.
· The largest crowd of the season, 6,802, attended the game Sunday.
· Holding Penn state to 42.4 percent shooting for the game, Ohio State has allowed only one opponent, Iowa (.517), to shoot 50 percent or better from the field this season.
· Ohio State has hit at least one 3-pointer in 139 consecutive games.
· Senior Tayler Hill has scored in double-figures in 53 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the Big Ten and the fourth longest in Division I.
· With 28 points, Hill moved into seventh place in Ohio State all-time scoring with 1,780 points. Hill passed Kim Jordan, who had 1,753 from 1977-80.
· Hill has scored 20 or more points 11 times this season and leads the Big Ten with 24.5 points per game in Big Ten play.
· After missing more than four games because of a knee injury, Amber Stokes played 20 minutes Sunday. Stokes had four points and two assists.
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