STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Ohio State erased an 18-point deficit with seven minutes left to force overtime and completed the comeback in the extra session, escaping with a 76-71 victory at Penn State on Thursday night.
The win was the first on the road for the Buckeyes who have now won three in a row and improve to 7-8 overall and 3-3 in conference play.
The star of the night was freshman Janai Crooms who scored a season-high 27 points and also grabbed a season-high eight rebounds. She was 12-of-15 from the floor and made two huge buckets late in regulation and overtime.
Fellow freshman Dorka Juhász notched a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. The Hungary native scored 14 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Makayla Waterman added 10 points and four rebounds while disrupting a number of shots around the rim. Carmen Grande scored eight points and dished-out a season-high 12 assists.
The game featured huge runs both ways. Penn State turned an 8-point third quarter hole into and 18-point lead with a 28-2 run. The Buckeyes bounced-back with a 22-4 run to tie the game at the end of regulation.
Ohio State shot 46.8 percent for the game and won the battle on the boards 37-32.
The Buckeyes led 20-18 at the end of the first quarter after making three threes and shooting 47 percent. OSU then scored the first five points of the second quarter to take their largest lead of the half at 25-18, forcing a PSU timeout. The Lady Lions responded to even the game at 27-27 and the Buckeyes led just 37-35 at halftime. Crooms had a season-high 13 points in the first half alone.
Crooms scored six quick points in the third quarter to force a Penn State timeout. The Lady Lions came out of the timeout and finished the quarter on a 19-2 run over the final eight minutes to grab a 54-45 lead headed to the fourth. Crooms scored all eight of the Buckeye points in the quarter.
The lead ballooned to as many as 18 points three minutes into the fourth quarter. That’s when the Buckeyes comeback began. Waterman and Grande each hit three-pointers and Juhász and Crooms scored six points at the rim to cut the lead to 63-59 with 2:32 to play. Juhász then stepped outside and hit a pair of threes to cut the lead to two at 67-65 with a minute to go. After a PSU miss, Grande hit Crooms on a backdoor cut to tie the score and send the game into overtime.
PSU scored the first three points of overtime and the score stayed that way until Carly Santoro hit a three from the wing with 1:14 to play. Crooms then scored her 27th point on a similar backdoor lay-in to give the Buckeyes a 72-70 lead. After PSU split a pair of free throws, Juhász took a pass from Crooms on an out of bounds play with 12 seconds left and scored plus the foul to seal the game.
The Buckeyes remain on the road this weekend as they head north to take on Michigan Sunday afternoon. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. on BTN. The teams split last year’s two meetings with the visiting team winning on the others home floor.