Feb. 12, 2012
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Samantha Prahalis, the only senior on Ohio State's roster, has been through a lot of battles on the court.
So it figured that when the No. 10 Buckeyes were badly in need of a bucket on Sunday against No. 16 Purdue, it was their most experienced player who supplied a dagger of a 3-pointer with 41 seconds left to pave the way to an 80-71 victory.
"We grinded it out, we played as a team and we won," said the diminutive point guard, who notched 21 of her 26 points after halftime.
Down as many as eight points earlier in the half, Ohio State fought back with a 12-3 run capped by a pair of free throws from Prahalis to take a 51-50 lead with 12:32 left. The teams then traded baskets and the lead to the finish.
The Buckeyes (22-3, 9-3 Big Ten) finally took the lead for good on a hustle play. With a loose ball sitting on the floor between two Purdue players in the Boilermakers' backcourt, Prahalis swooped in, scooped it up and went the length of the court to put the Buckeyes up 67-65 with 4:07 remaining.
But the Boilermakers (19-6, 9-3) wouldn't go away. Courtney Moses hit a left-handed follow with just over a minute left to narrow what had been a six-point deficit to 73-71.
Ohio State called timeout with 43 seconds left. Prahalis, the Big Ten's second-leading scorer at 21.4 points a game, tossed an inbound pass to center Ashley Adams, who quickly kicked it right back to her. Prahalis' 3-pointer from the right wing pushed the lead to five and spurred a clinching 7-0 run over the final minute.
"Ashley posted up pretty strong and I saw that she was open, so I passed to her," Prahalis said. "She made a great pass back and I hit it."
Purdue coach Sharon Versyp regretted a slip by her defense.
"We just made a mistake, a big one," she said. "If we could have had a good defensive stand, then we had a play set up to come down and execute. Them nailing that shot, obviously, was the big key."
It was a designed play for the Buckeyes, with Adams as the first option and Prahalis a secondary threat on the perimeter.
"It's something we work on, something we talk about," Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. "It's a read that if (the Boilermakers) do what they did, we go directly to Ashley. And the inbounder (Prahalis) steps back on the floor and we throw it back to her."
Amber Stokes added 14 points and Adams 13, while conference scoring leader Tayler Hill wasn't much of a factor offensively before hitting two late free throws. She finished with 12 points.
The Buckeyes played with desperation in the second half, well aware that a loss would put them two games off the pace in the conference with just four games left.
"We knew that our future was in our hands," Stokes said. "We knew what we needed to do. We got the W, so we're happy."
The Buckeyes now find themselves with three losses in the Big Ten -- the same as Purdue, Penn State and Nebraska -- with just two weeks remaining in the regular season.
Brittany Rayburn had 22 points, and Sam Ostarello 12 points and 10 rebounds for Purdue, which dominated the boards 41-24 but committed 18 turnovers.
Purdue, winless in Columbus since January 2004, led by six at the half and was on top most of the second half until the Buckeyes caught up in the final frantic minutes.
Now the Boilermakers have to regroup and refocus for what promises to be a wild two weeks.
"You always say that the next game is important," Versyp said. "Well, when it comes down the stretch, jockeying for the top four spots (in the Big Ten tournament), you've got to take care of your home and you've got to steal some on the road."
Ohio State improved to 17-0 at home this season just a day after the Buckeyes' third-ranked men's team -- which had also been 17-0 at home -- had their 39-game win streak in Columbus ended by No. 11 Michigan State, 58-48.
Foster was already thinking about the next thing on his to-do list.
"They get a day off tomorrow and then I've got to remind them Tuesday that we've got to get better," he said with a grin.
- Ohio State has now won the last four meetings vs. Purdue, including eight of the last nine.
- Purdue has not won in Columbus since 2004.
- Ohio State became the first team this season to shoot 50 percent (52.8) or better against Purdue. The Buckeyes were 28-for-53 from the field.
- Four Buckeyes - Samantha Prahalis (26), Amber Stokes (14), Ashley Adams (13) and Tayler Hill (12) - scored in double digits.
- After scoring five points, Prahalis answered with 21 points in the second half for her 26-point total.
- Prahalis added five assists in the game to bring her career total to 874. Prahalis is now within 18 of the Big Ten record.
- Sophomore center Ashley Adams has recorded 35 blocks in the last seven games and 27 in the last five. Adams had five blocks vs. Purdue.
- Ohio State is 4-0 vs. ranked teams this season with wins over No. 20 LSU, No. 18 Oklahoma, No. 20 Nebraska and No. 16 Purdue.
- The Buckeyes are 18-0 this year and 106-9 since the start of the 2007-08 season when they make more than their opponent at the line.
- A season-high crowd of 8,422 watched the game between the Buckeyes and Boilermakers.
- Head coach Jim Foster improves to 258-65 in his 10th season in Columbus.
Jim Foster, Ohio State head coach
On the defense
"We started to do a better job when we backed off our full court pressure and went to half court. Our defense got better."
On Samantha Prahalis' three-point shot
"It's something we work on and something we talk about. It's a read that if they do what they did, we go directly to Ashley (Adams), then the inbounder steps back and we go to her."
On the offensive plan
"I think in the second half a lot more ball reversals, a lot more ball movement created a lot more open shots. In the first half they were there and Sammy (Prahalis) was going sideways. We put a little wrinkle in our offense and the flow was better. We were able to get in the lane from different angles and when we do that good things happen with this basketball team."
"They played great. They're a senior dominated team. They had a week to prepare, they had a bye week. They came in here ready to play. We had very competitive games with them last year and they wanted this. Who wouldn't love to be in that situation playing at this time of the year? You give these kids way too much credit if you think they're analyzing the standings. They're looking at today and what's in front of them today."
On winning the Big Ten title
"I think every game we play for the rest of the season is a must win if we want to do it without somebody helping us. We have to take control of the situation not worrying about who's playing where tonight. If we take care of our business we win. That's what we have to be cognizant of."
Samantha Prahalis, senior guard
On the first half
"In the first half I was playing too much. I was moving east-to-west and they are a long team. Coach Foster said to use my skill set and attack forward, playing north and south."
On the fans
"I am happy everyone came out and wore pink. We had a great atmosphere and I'm glad we got the win for everyone."
Amber Stokes, junior forward
On the fans
"I was glad the fans came out wearing a lot of pink. The atmosphere was great. They were cheering and keeping us up all game."
Sharon Versyp, Purdue head coach
On the end of the game
"It was a two point game, they had a 15 second side out of bounds and we made a mistake, a big one. [Samantha Prahalis] nailing that shot was the big key for them. Our defense was supposed to stay on the ball. We never double team. We always stay on the ball."
On keeping Brittany Rayburn in despite foul trouble
"Brittany is a senior and she has played since her freshman year. There are certain players who know how to play with three or four fouls."
On the Big Ten
"Every game is just as important as the next one when it comes down to the stretch jockeying for the Top 4 spots. You have to take care of your home and steal some on the road. I thought we played good basketball and that was good. That's what you want to be doing this time of year. It's dangerous. It doesn't matter when you play. Top to bottom I still think this is one of the toughest leagues more so now than other years. The Big Ten tournament is going to be really amazing."
Sam Ostarello, junior forward
On the game
"We have a lot of things to learn from. We are getting to that point where you want to start peaking. This was a great game for us to learn from."
On playing with key players on the bench
"We are a veteran team and we've been playing with each other for a long time. I don't think it was a huge shocker to us. We just play with our team and we know how our team plays."
Brittany Rayburn, senior guard
On playing after a bye week
"It was great. We looked really fresh out there and that was a positive for us. That's great pushing into this last stretch."