No. 17 Ohio State Holds On to Beat No. 18 Oklahoma, 69-63
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Ohio State's sizzling start gave the Buckeyes a double-digit cushion that held up even when they finally starting missing shots.
Tayler Hill scored 20 points, Samantha Prahalis added 19 and Ohio State (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) made its first nine shots of the game in a 69-63 win over No. 18 Oklahoma on Sunday in the Big 12/Big Ten Challenge.
Ohio State (7-0) led the whole way in its first road game of the season and finished the toughest part of its nonconference schedule with successive wins over LSU, Florida State and Oklahoma. The Buckeyes are 4-0 all-time against Oklahoma (3-2), which lost its second straight game, having fallen at Vanderbilt on Nov. 26.
Ohio State was up 7-0 before the Sooners took their first shot. The Buckeyes' opening streak included 3-pointers by Hill and Prahalis and staked them to a 23-10 lead less than seven minutes into the game.
"When you have veteran guards, it doesn't matter where you play," Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. "It's not like we haven't played in tough venues. It's not like we haven't played good teams away (from home). It's not a first-time experience for those kids, and our freshmen, they're dumb enough to follow our veteran guards. That makes me happy."
On the other sideline, Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale fumed, especially after Hill's 3-pointer less than 10 seconds into the game.
"They were hot. There's no doubt about it," Coale said. "But we didn't do anything to damage their confidence by leaving their best 3-point shooter wide open off the tip. I mean, seriously, that's just unacceptable. From there, now you're already in a hole. That gives an already potent offensive team even more confidence, like they needed any.
"Then we had to dig. It's tough. It's tough even for a veteran team to have to climb from behind the whole time. It's a double whammy for a really young team. But that's why we grow up from this. That's why we're in these situations. We'll figure out it's a lot easier to play from ahead."
Oklahoma switched to a zone defense for a time, which slowed the Buckeyes a bit, and slowly chipped away at the deficit but couldn't completely close the gap.
Ohio State led 41-33 at halftime. The Sooners twice rallied within a point, the first time at 57-56 on Aaryn Ellenberg's 8-foot jumper. But Prahalis, who went 8-of-10 from the field, answered with a 6-foot baseline jumper for the Buckeyes.
Nicole Griffin scored for Oklahoma to pull the Sooners within one at 59-58 with 5:02 left. The Sooners then had several chances to take the lead, but Ellenberg and Joanna McFarland both short-armed shots and Oklahoma committed two of its 14 turnovers.
Foster said those defensive stops were critical for the Buckeyes.
"You're not going to win the game if you just think you're going to outscore them," Foster said. "You have to get some key stops."
The Sooners' dry spell eventually lasted more than 4 ½ minutes. Ashley Adams had two baskets in a 6-0 spurt by Ohio State that gave the Buckeyes a seven-point cushion in the final minute. Hill went 4-fo-5 from the free-throw line in the final 22.4 seconds for the Buckeyes.
"We had a lead, so we just wanted to finish out the game," Prahalis said. "You want to be aggressive but you don't want to be too aggressive. You want to let things flow. . This is a hard environment to play in. This was a good team we were playing against. It was good to play this well on the road."
Ohio State finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field (27 of 54). Adams and Amber Stokes both scored 12 points for the Buckeyes. Prahalis and Hill both added five assists.
Ellenberg and Morgan Hook both scored 14 points to lead Oklahoma. McFarland grabbed 16 rebounds to go with five points for the Sooners.
No. 17 Ohio State 69 (7-0), No. 18 Oklahoma 63 (3-2)
On Ohio State's adjustments during Oklahoma's rally
On Ohio State's attitude during the game
Tayler Hill, Ohio State junior guard
On Oklahoma's performance
Samantha Prahalis, Ohio State senior guard
On the guard match-ups