COLUMBUS, Ohio – It didn’t take long for Samantha Prahalis to make her presence felt in her first game back with Ohio State.
Prahalis had to serve a three-game suspension for NCAA secondary violations but the 2009-10 All-Big Ten point guard resumed her starting spot and needed only 26 seconds for her first assist on a feed to Jantel Lavender.
The Buckeyes (4-0) were off and running to an 80-47 victory against East Tennessee State. Prahalis had 18 points, eight assists but nine turnovers in 31 minutes.
“Sometimes (Prahalis) was trying to play four games into one,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. “She’ll slow down.”
Prahalis had her first basket 2 1/2 minutes into the game but her flair showed moments later when she dished the ball to the left corner. As Brittany Johnson unleashed a 3-pointer, Prahalis backpedaled toward the center circle with three right fingers in the air before the ball swished the net.
“I was ready to get back. I was a little bit anxious,” Prahalis said. “I felt like I was a freshman, I was a little bit nervous because they had three games under their belt.
“I wanted to be in there and catch up with them,” she added. “I didn’t think I would ever feel like a freshman again.”
Despite Prahalis’ energy, the Buckeyes (4-0) trailed 20-19 with 7 minutes left in the first half before scoring the final 17 points leading into the break.
“We acted like a veteran team,” Foster said. “This is the fourth straight team we’ve played that won 20-plus games last year.”
Prahalis helped the cause with a no-look layup from the left side as she was fouled. She made the free throw for a 32-20 lead but Tayler Hill was the catalyst during the streak with eight points.
Hill, who played all 120 minutes in the first three games in Prahalis’ absence, finished with 18 points.
“She’s more comfortable,” Prahalis said. “She’s not only making herself better but everyone else better. Playing the point for those three games when I was out helped her.” Jantel Lavender led all scorers with 20 points and added 11 rebounds. She credited the return of Prahalis for pacing the team’s offense.
“She is a good open-floor-player,” Lavender said. “Without her, it was a lot slower place.”
Natalie Pickwell had 16 points for the Lady Buccaneers (2-2) but cold shooting doomed ETSU late in the opening half. They missed their final 11 shots from the floor, two free throws and committed seven turnovers as OSU took a 16-point lead.
• Jantel Lavender recorded her 60th career double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Ohio State is now 50-10 when she records a double-double.
• Lavender has scored in double figures in all 106 career games, the longest active streak in Division I.
• The Buckeyes went on a 17-0 run to close the first half after trailing 20-19 with 6:59 remaining.
• With the win, Ohio State is now 129-10 at home overall under Jim Foster and 102-6 since the start of 2004-05.
• The Buckeyes have won 112 of 114 at home against unranked opponents.
• The game marked the first time the Buckeyes have pulled down 50 rebounds since they recorded 51 vs. Bowling Green Nov. 15, 2009. Ohio State outrebounded ETSU, 50-42.
• The Buckeyes have had four players score in double-figures in each game this season.
• Ohio State outscored ETSU 50-18 in the paint and held a 16-2 advantage in fast break points.
• The Buckeyes are 28-0 since the start of last season when scoring 70-plus points.
• Ohio State held ETSU’s leading scorer, Tara Davis, to six points on 2-of-12 shooting. Davis came into the game averaging 23.3 points per game.
• Samantha Prahalis recorded her 500th career assist with 1:53 remaining in the second half. Prahalis is the fourth player in Ohio State history with 500 assists.
• Tayler Hill, with 16 points, and Brittany Johnson, 13 points, have each scored in double-figures in all four games this season.
• The game was the first all-time meeting between the Buckeyes and ETSU.
• Ohio State made 16-of-22 free throws to ETSU’s 2-of-6. The Buckeyes are now 4-0 this season and 73-5 over the past three-plus years when they make more at the free throw line.
• In her first career game, freshman Ashley Adams recorded three blocks.
• Redshirt freshman Brianna Sanders scored her first career points on a layup at the 6:49 mark of the second half.
Ohio State Head Coach Jim Foster
On “new additions to the cast”
“They did some good things. It felt like our first game. This was kind of our first opportunity to start towards a rotation. Sammy was practicing and Amber [Stokes] and Ashley [Adams] weren’t. Timing and things like that are going to take a while with Sammy, but she’ll slow down. Tayler [Hill] played very well, considering.”
On Samantha Prahalis and Tayler Hill at the point
“With Sammy, play is faster. She’s very comfortable and good with getting the ball down the floor quickly. With Tayler, it’s not quite there yet.”
On “unselfish” play of non-starters
“I liked our unselfishness in the last few minutes. I like that they know they want to score, especially with Emilee Harmon on the baseline there at the end.”
On starting Prahalis after her suspension
“I never had to think about that. I don’t try to waste my time on that kind of stuff. We’ve got good players. We don’t fool around with that. That’s not relevant to what we’re about. I didn’t want to punish her. While she was sitting at home, I’m sure that there’s some marks in the wallpaper … she was probably climbing the walls during those first three games.”
Jantel Lavender, senior center
On having Sammy back
“Having Sammy back helps keep the floor open a lot more. She can see Tayler and get her the ball. She tells people where to run and when to get the ball. People respect her and listen to her, which adds to our game.”
On playing with her teammates
“Ashley Adams is really long and makes a lot of shots. Once she gets a handle she will be unstoppable. Once we get later into the season, Ashley, Darryce, Tayler and myself will have a great flow.”
Samantha Prahalis, junior guard
On her first game back
“I was really excited, obviously. I’m just ready to get back. I thought it was ok for my first game back. I was a little bit anxious. Like coach said, I was trying to maybe squeeze four games into one. I was trying to get in a rhythm and get into a flow. But I’ll take it as my first game back.”
On her overall play
“Here and there things went well. There were spurts between here and there that I would have two straight turnovers and maybe make not as smart of a play. I couldn’t find a consistent rhythm, but at times it was good.”
On nerves for tonight
“I said to a couple of the girls in the locker room that I felt like a freshman again. I was a little bit nervous because they had three games under their belt. I just wanted to be in there and catch up with them. It was my first game tonight. It is going to take a few games to get into the rhythm of the game.”