Feb. 6, 2012
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- After a difficult loss, Samantha Prahalis decided to assert herself even more.
Prahalis scored a career-high 34 points and No. 10 Ohio State made the most of an eight-day layoff to beat Wisconsin 72-58 on Monday night, the Buckeyes' 20th consecutive victory over the Badgers.
The Buckeyes (21-2, 8-2 Big Ten) had lots of time to mull a disappointing 76-65 loss at Minnesota on Jan. 29.
"I kind of wanted to come out aggressive," Prahalis said. "Not necessarily was I passive in the game that we lost, but I felt like I could have been more aggressive. So today I made it a point to be."
Usually, Prahalis thinks first about spreading the offense among her teammates. She came in averaging 19 points but almost seven assists.
She made 12 of 18 shots from the field, 4 of 5 behind the arc and all six free throws to go with five assists, two rebounds and four steals.
"She had some very good opportunities early and felt good about herself," coach Jim Foster said.
Tayler Hill, the Big Ten's leading scorer, added 18 points for the Buckeyes, who broke the game open with a 16-3 second-half run.
"Prahalis is a very tough cover, Hill as well," Wisconsin coach Bobbie Kelsey said. "We didn't do a very good job of guarding those two."
Taylor Wurtz had 20 points and Morgan Paige 14 for Wisconsin (8-15, 4-7), which hit a school-record 12 3-pointers. The Badgers were 12 of 24 behind the arc, breaking the mark of 11 which they had hit seven times including twice earlier this season.
But that didn't make Kelsey all that happy.
"There were some positive things -- we were hitting our 3-point shots," she said. "But, again, they had 12 blocks. When are you going to figure out that you cannot go in there and get blocked every single time. I don't know what people are thinking on my team. It's disheartening when you see the same thing over and over and over again."
A 7-0 run, capped by Ashley Thomas' second straight basket on a driving layup off an assist from Wurtz, cut what had been a 13-point second half deficit to just 49-46 with 12 minutes remaining.
Foster called a timeout and "had some words for us," Prahalis said.
"We just were in an area defensively where we weren't playing at the level we need to play at," he said. "I just reiterated that. We got much more aggressive at that end of the floor."
The difference was apparent.
"We responded pretty well," Prahalis said. "We just made it important and got out there a little quicker."
Darryce Moore banked in a short shot and Hill hit a fastbreak layup off Prahalis' assist to make it 53-46. After yet another 3 for Wisconsin, this one by Jacki Gulczynski to tie the school record, Ohio State went on a 12-0 run to push the lead to 65-49.
Raven Ferguson scored on a reverse layup, Hill hit a long 3 and then Prahalis stole the ball from Jade Davis, collected the rolling ball at midcourt, and then racing in for the layup. Hill then had a three-point play and Prahalis two free throws before Paige broke a 4 1/2-minute drought with a record 12th 3-pointer.
The Buckeyes led 35-25 after Prahalis had a huge half.
"My shot felt good so that's why I was kind of in a flow this game," she said.
She didn't learn she had set a new career standard until she came to the bench with just over a minute left.
Prahalis scored Ohio State's first six points before assisting on a Hill bucket for an 8-0 lead. She scored or assisted on nine of Ohio State's first 11 baskets and had outscored Wisconsin by herself until there was just under 5 minutes left in the half.
The Badgers were up to their usual tricks, hitting 5 of 9 3-pointers to narrow what had been a 14-point deficit to 29-23 late in the half.
Wisconsin needs only 20 3-pointers to break the school record of 174 set in 2001-2.
Kelsey wasn't a bit surprised at the way Prahalis played.
"When you can handle the ball and shoot, you're not worried about who's guarding you. You don't care," she said of the 5-foot-7 point guard. "She's supremely confident. She knows she can get a shot up anytime she wants to, or she can get it to somebody who can make a layup. When you've got a kid like that on your team, you've got a chance to do something special. And they probably will."
With the win, Ohio State has now won 20-consecutive games vs. Wisconsin and leads the all-time series 46-15.
Senior guard Samantha Prahalis recorded a career-high 34 points. Her previous best was 32 at Michigan State Jan. 9, 2010. Prahalis also moved into fifth place on Ohio State's all-time scoring list, passing Averrill Roberts (1,814 points). For her career, Prahalis has 1,848 points.
Prahalis also added five assists, which brings her career total to 862. Prahalis is chasing the Big Ten record of 892 held by Northwestern's Nancy Kennelly from 1989-93.
Junior guard Tayler Hill added 18 points in the game. For the game, Hill and Prahalis, Top 3 scorers in Big Ten in conference play, combined for 52 points.
Ohio State's 12 blocks is the most under head coach Jim Foster.
The Buckeyes committed a season-low six personal fouls vs. Wisconsin. The Badgers only went to the line one time and the attempt came with 35 seconds left in the game.
The Buckeyes are 17-0 this year and 105-9 since the start of the 2007-08 season when they make more than their opponents at the line.
Ohio State has now won 32 of its last 35 games dating back to last season, losing only to No. 1 seed Tennessee in the 2011 NCAA Dayton Regional, at Michigan Jan. 7 and Minnesota Jan. 29.
The Buckeyes improve to 16-0 this season in Columbus. Since the start of the 2004-05 season, Ohio State has amassed a 129-9 record at home and a 114-8 record at Value City Arena (13-1 at St. John Arena, 2-0 at Nationwide Arena).
Head coach Jim Foster improves to 257-64 in his 10th year in Columbus.
Jim Foster, Ohio State head coach
On Ohio State's defensive play
"We did a better job. We ran them into some screens. Martina [Ellerbe] had the best blip of defense since she's been here and she made it easier for us."
On the play of Tayler Hill
"Tayler [Hill] had a rough start, but got her confidence when she made a big three in front of our bench. Then she felt better about herself. When the three of them [Hill, Samantha Prahalis and Amber Stokes] take their time and use their opportunities, they're hard to guard."
On Ohio State's 12 blocked shots
"I think we've been doing that all year, relative to Ashley [Adams]. Martina [Ellerbe]'s a very good shot blocker. Ashley [Adams]'s has become better at it. I think 12 is a very good number."
On Wisconsin's offensive play
"Their offense is not conducive to getting to the foul line. They aren't attacking the basket and getting to the low post and those spots get you to the foul line. They were great from the three-point line. That's the way they play and they're very good at it. I give them credit."
Samantha Prahalis, senior guard
On the defensive game
"It was good. They were shooting a lot of three's so they were launching it. I thought for the most part the defense was pretty good, but I thought there was a little bit of a lapse when they were shooting three's and a little bit in the second half. The reason they came back, to their credit, was they were making all these three's, but we just need to stick with it a little bit better."
On her aggressive nature today
"I kind of wanted to come out aggressively, not necessarily was I passive in the game that we lost, but I felt like I could have been more aggressive. Today I made it a point to be more aggressive from the start. My shot felt good, so I was kind of in a flow in the game."
On scoring a career high 34 points
"I knew it was career high from my sophomore year. In the game I didn't know until I got to the bench and they asked me what my previous high had been and they told me I beat it."
On the impressive steal
"That steal was Amber's (Stokes) steal because she played great defense. The girl went sideways and all I had to do was pick it up so I really give credit to Amber."
On having an eight-day break after the loss
"It's pretty rough. Then again it was pretty rough the first few days, then we kind of said let's regroup and stay together. I thought as a team we did well at staying as a group and bouncing back. I think the bye came at a good time. We regrouped and realized we aren't that good and still have to get better."
On the final stretch in the season
"Every team is good and for us the last six games are super important. We need to play great defense. Every game is going to be a dog fight so we have to bring it. Nothing is going to be easy. We just have to take care of our game and we'll be good."
Bobbie Kelsey, Wisconsin Head Coach
On the game
"We had a tough game tonight as you all could see. Ohio State is a talented bunch of kids, using the talents they have. (Samantha) Prahalis is a tough cover, (Tayler) Hill as well. When you have 22 turnovers, you're not going to win the games."
On missing senior forward Anya Covington
"It's difficult in this kind of game because we know what she can do. It makes it hard. We depend on her. But you can't stop playing, games go on. We're not a one person team, but we did miss her."
On cutting the lead to six points
"Well that's a credit to the kids. It's not all negative. But again, I expect more from them. Not many people expected us to do much this year, but that's not why I came to Wisconsin. My expectations are very high for this group and that's why we can compete with a team like Ohio State. We aren't here to lie down and say `Poor Wisconsin.' I'm a competitor. I don't like to lose. I'm always asking for more and when they don't give it I get pretty upset because I know what they can do."
On Ohio State senior guard Samantha Prahalis being effective
"She should, with that kind of talent and ability. I saw her play in high school. She's not very big, but she's very effective. When you have a kid like that on your team, you have a chance to do something special and they probably will."