Jan. 27, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Maggie Lucas scored 14 of her 18 points in the second half and No. 8 Penn State saved its best for last in beating Ohio State 71-56 on Sunday, the Nittany Lions’ 14th consecutive Big Ten win to set a school record.
The victory, in which they outscored the Buckeyes 43-19 after halftime, also gave them their fastest start since the 1993-94 season.
Alex Bentley scored 16 points and Nikki Greene had 11 points and 13 rebounds for Penn State (17-2, 7-0 Big Ten), which has won 11 in a row since a 67-52 loss at Connecticut on Dec. 6. It’s the sixth-longest winning streak in program history.
Ohio State guard Amber Stokes, co-captain and the reigning Big Ten defensive player of the year, had missed the last four games with a sprained left knee. She began working out with the team this past week and provided an emotional lift and four points.
The Nittany Lions improved to 33-21 all-time against Ohio State — even though they had won just two of the last 15 meetings coming in.
Coach Coquese Washington used extra time to make some points with her team at halftime after they fell behind by nine and were on the wrong side of a 10-0 run at the end of the break. The Nittany Lions didn’t return to the court until there was 90 seconds left before the second-half tip.
Hill scored on Ohio State’s first possession of the second half to stretch the lead to 11. But then things went south for the Buckeyes.
Penn State missed two field goal attempts, hit two of four free throws and got a 3-pointer from Lucas — all on one trip down the court, thanks to two rebounds off missed foul shots. When Bentley then stole the ball from Alston on the next play, the Nittany Lions had made up seven points in 33 seconds with the ball barely being advanced past midcourt.
With the Buckeyes hanging on to a 41-39 lead, the Nittany Lions then took the lead for good with a nine-point run.
Greene tied it before Lucas made it 43-41 on a lefty jumper in the lane. After Ohio State missed four attempts from the field, Ariel Edwards raced to the hoop for a layup in transition and was fouled, completing the three-point play. Greene then closed the uprising the way she started it with a bucket inside, off an assist from Lucas, for a 48-41 advantage.
Ohio State never got closer than five points again as the Nittany Lions slowly pulled away.
The Buckeyes more than held their own on the boards, leading 22-18 at the break, while outscoring the Nittany Lions 12-0 from behind the arc and 7-2 at the line.
Penn State came out as if to end the game early, roaring to a quick 7-0 lead on two Bentley baskets and a three-point play by Greene while Ohio State turned it over on its first two possessions.
The Buckeyes showed some spunk by countering with an 11-0 run that was fueled by Hill and Stokes, who received a warm reception when she first came in at the 17:58 mark. Hill had five points and Stokes made her first two field-goal attempts during the spurt.
The teams traded points for most of the rest of the half until the closing minutes.
The Nittany Lions took a 28-27 lead on Bentley’s spin move followed by a 12-foot jumper. But then Hill hit a drive, Alston drove and hit the basket and was fouled for a three-point play and then scored after a nifty fake on a fastbreak layup to make it 34-28.
Hill then hit the shot of the half. With time dwindling on the shot clock, she pumped up an NBA-length 3 from the left elbow that caught only net with 25 seconds left to close the scoring at 37-28.
Hill almost hit her average in the first 20 minutes with 18 points on 6 of 12 shooting from the field including 4 of 7 3-pointers. Bentley had 10 for the Lions.
The Buckeyes fell to 0-4 against ranked teams, playing their best against the top teams on their schedule. They also lost to No. 7 Notre Dame (57-51), No. 22 North Carolina (57-54) and to No. 11 Purdue (82-75 in three overtimes).
It was their second home loss in the last three games after winning 31 in a row.
Jim Foster, Ohio State head coach
On how the Buckeyes can improve
“We have to play 40 minutes. 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.”
On the second-half slump
“The foul-shooting situations gave them five points by not boxing out on foul shots. That changed momentum right there. We spread them better in the first half. We got to our spots and moved the ball better. We stopped doing that in the second half.”
On the play of freshman guard Ameryst Alston
“We have a freshman point guard who gets better every time she goes out. She learns lessons every time she gets in new situations. She’s learning to use her left hand and adjust when they jam her right hand. She’s going to grow with the experience.”
Tayler Hill, Ohio State senior guard
On the Buckeyes’ second half performance
“We had mental breakdowns and turnovers. They scored five points because we didn’t box out. We didn’t pay attention to detail and the game slipped away from us. In the first half, we reversed the ball and played well. We have to find a way to play 40 minutes.”
On the return of Amber Stokes
“It’s always nice to have her on the floor. She’s a threat on both sides of the floor.”
Ameryst Alston, Ohio State freshman guard
On the mentality of the Buckeyes
“Mentally, we have to be there. 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.”
On learning the Buckeye system as a freshman
“I’m learning a lot every time I am on the floor. Coming from high school to here, I don’t think my teammates and coaches see me as a freshman. Being a freshman is not an excuse. “
Alex Bentley, Penn State senior guard
On the second half
“During the second half we really took to heart what coach told us and we played our game.We played great team basketball today and I look forward to the rest of the season.”
On Ohio State freshman guard Ameryst Alston
“I think she played great. Point guard is such a huge position on the court because there is so much planning and executing responsibility that comes with the position, but she is looking promising.”
Maggie Lucas, Penn State junior guard
On the second half
“I played more patient and settled into my game. [Alex] Bentley puts me in great positions and I rely on her to help me out.”
On team dynamics
“We have a lot of trust for each other and we have played together for a long time. When we settle down we can really rely on our experiences together.”
On Ohio State senior guard Amber Stokes
“Amber is a great player, quick and athletic. She is definitely a game changer and we had to adjust our game to attend to her.”
Coquese Washington, Penn State head coach
On the second half
“I thought we played with more energy, focus and trust in the second half. 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.”
On playing on the road
“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.”
On Ohio State
“Ohio State always finds a way to make a run in the second half of conference play. [Jim] Foster knows what to do to get them over their hump.”