Ohio State makes Big Ten record 17 3-pointers; Prahalis leads way with 26 points and 12 assists
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Ohio State’s 3-pointers kept falling and the Buckeyes shot past Penn State.
Samantha Prahalis scored 26 points and the Buckeyes (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) hit a school-record 17 3-pointers to beat Penn State 86-73 on Sunday.
Prahalis hit five from behind the arc and Maria Moeller and Tayler Hill connected for three each. Jantel Lavender added 18 points and eight rebounds for Ohio State (23-3, 11-2 Big Ten).
“When you play against us, you have to pick your poison with Lavender on the floor,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said about the outside shooting. “It’s something we work on and are very comfortable with.”
Ohio State shot 65 percent (17-of-26) from behind the arc, including 9-of-13 in the second half to turn a 15-point deficit into a victory.
“We can be a little bit closer, I thought we could rotate better,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington said about defending Ohio State on the perimeter. “But that’s a ridiculous number. They had a great shooting night.”
Tyra Grant led the Lady Lions (15-8, 7-6) with 22 points, while Alex Bentley added 20, but just four after halftime.
Penn State is reeling, having lost their fourth straight after breaking back into the Top 25 two weeks ago for the first time since 2004-05.
The latest loss will sting for a while after Penn State led by 11 at the half against one of the best teams in the country.
“With the energy and intensity we were playing with, it was hard to sustain it for 40 minutes,” Washington said. “We kind of ran out of gas the last eight minutes of the game.”
Led by Bentley, the Lady Lions attacked the basket with success in the first half, undaunted by Lavender’s intimidating post presence. Grant hit big 3s, and the whole team scraped for rebounds and loose balls against the flustered Buckeyes, who had 18 turnovers alone in the opening 20 minutes. They finished with 25 in the game.
But 3-point shooting kept Ohio State in the game, and when the Buckeyes got more careful with the ball after halftime, the long-range barrage didn’t stop.
Moeller hit back-to-back 3s, her second at 5:58 giving Ohio State its first lead at 70-69 since early in the afternoon.
Two free throws by Grant gave Penn State a 71-70 lead with 5:36 left before the Buckeyes closed with a 16-2 run.
Hill hit a 3 from the corner, then Prahalis sank a trey in transition after Lavender tipped away an entry pass on defense to put the Buckeyes up 79-71 with 2:52 left.
Asked about the success from long range, Prahalis said “I think it was good ball movement. I think we were getting stops on defense and that was the big thing because it led to some transition 3s.”
Nearly everything went Penn State’s way early on with Ohio State so careless with the basketball.
Bentley scored 16 first-half points on 8-for-8 shooting as the Lady Lions led by as many as 15 late in the half before going into halftime up 48-37.
But Bentley hit just one more field goal the rest of the way and committed all six of her turnovers in the second half.
It was the opposite story for Prahalis, her point guard counterpart with the Buckeyes. The standout sophomore looked flustered early after committing eight first-half-turnovers.
She was also whistled for a technical foul that led to free throws by Grant to put Penn State up 14 with 17:18 left.
But Prahalis settled down after halftime with just one turnover.
“I think we were all kind of pressing a little bit and we just needed to slow down,” she said. Penn State was playing zone “so there [was] no need for all those turnovers and trying to thread the needle. We just had to move it around.”