Buckeyes bow out of B1G Tournament
March 8, 2013
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) -- It's not hard to pinpoint where Ohio State got derailed. Figuring out where the Buckeyes are headed next is a bit tricky.
They lost to 76-66 to No. 8 Penn State in the Big Ten quarterfinals on Friday, and they're not sure what's in store for them.
Coach Jim Foster said he thinks his team belongs in the NCAA tournament, but he was hardly optimistic that there will be an invitation.
"Well, stranger things have happened," he said. "I don't know. The committee, if you asked me today, `Are we one of the best 64 teams in the country right now?' My response would be we certainly are. But there's X number of automatic bids, and you can look at things in many different ways. So I don't expect it, but you never know."
This much is certain.
Penn State is moving on after getting 20 points from Alex Bentley and 18 from Maggie Lucas, including back-to-back 3-pointers during the tie-breaking run in the second half.
The top-seeded Lady Lions (25-4) had their difficulties in this one after earning a first-round bye and their second straight regular-season title with a 14-2 conference record. But they broke a tie early in the second half with a big burst and advanced to Saturday's semifinals against the Michigan-Michigan State winner.
"I think we had some missed assignments on defense and offensively we weren't really moving the ball on quick shots," the Buckeyes' Tayler Hill said.
Ohio State's Amber Stokes put it this way: "I'd say we lost focus."
Bentley was 8 of 13 from the field. Lucas, the Big Ten player of the year, hit three 3-pointers.
Nikki Greene scored 17, and the Lady Lions shook off a slow start to shoot just over 49 percent in the game.
Tayler Hill scored 23 for Ohio State (18-13) and became the fifth Buckeyes player to hit the 2,000-point mark. She now has 2,015 in her career, but it was a tough night overall, even though she tried to inject some suspense as the game wound down.
Hill hit back-to-back 3-pointers and added a free throw after being fouled on another attempt from long range, pulling the Buckeyes within 73-66 with 42 seconds left. But she was just 7 of 21 from the field after scoring 25 in the first round against Minnesota.
Amber Stokes had 18 points and five steals. Ashley Adams added 13 points and eight rebounds, but the ninth-seeded Buckeyes came up short after winning seven of their previous nine games. Now, they'll have to wait to find out their postseason fate.
"It's out of our hands," Hill said. "We're just going to have to wait and see and stay positive."
With an experienced and explosive backcourt led by Bentley and Lucas and the depth to play just about any style, Penn State believes it has the makeup for a long postseason run. Winning the conference tournament would be a significant step. That's something the Lady Lions haven't done since 1996.
They came in as the second seed two years ago and lost to Ohio State in the final, and last season, Penn State earned the top seed, only to fall to fourth-seeded Purdue in the semifinals.
The Lady Lions finally started to build some momentum early in the second half, going on a 14-2 run to break a 39-39 tie.
They scored 10 straight, starting with Bentley's fast-break jumper, and Lucas really gave her team a jolt when she nailed those back-to-back 3s, letting her emotions show after she got knocked to the floor by Stokes on that second one.
"Every time Maggie hits a 3, our energy offensively and defensive, it changes the game," Bentley said. "It's very exciting and I'm sure it's exciting to watch. She's just that dagger. And when a player's that hot hitting threes, it's hard to bounce back."