Head coach Jim Foster won his 750th career game Saturday in the Buckeyes' 77-75 win at Cal. Ohio State improves to 10-0, its best start in the NCAA era.
BERKELEY, Calif. -- Samantha Prahalis had 20 points and six assists and Ohio State (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) held off California 77-75 on Saturday to remain unbeaten and give coach Jim Foster his 750th career victory.
Tayler Hill and Ashley Adams added 15 points apiece for the Buckeyes (10-0), who led by 14 with 5:20 left before the Golden Bears rallied in the final minutes.
Cal missed a chance to force overtime when Gennifer Brandon's layup with 5 seconds remaining fell short. Reshanda Gray grabbed the rebound but missed and also failed on a putback attempt before Afure Jemerigbe's final try was off as the buzzer sounded.
Brandon finished with 24 points and a career-high 24 rebounds for the Bears (8-3), who were 20 of 38 from the free throw line.
The Buckeyes had won their previous two games by an average of 38.5 points before being pushed to the brink by Cal in the first meeting between the teams since 2009.
Prahalis, Ohio State's career assists leader, had nine points in the second half, including a soft jumper that gave the Buckeyes a 72-58 lead with less than 5 1/2 minutes left. She finished 7 of 13 from the floor and had eight rebounds before fouling out in the final minute.
Cal, which had trouble with the Buckeyes' quick transition game all afternoon, made it close at the end despite its troubles on defense and at the free throw line. During a 40-second stretch in the second half, the Bears were fouled four times but made just two of eight free throws.
It turned out to be the difference in the game for the Bears, who had their five-game winning streak snapped. All three of Cal's losses this season have been against ranked teams.
Ohio State, on the other hand, kept rolling and matched the school's best start. The 2000-01 team also started 10-0.
Foster, in his 10th season with the Buckeyes, became the ninth Division I women's coach to reach the 750-win plateau. There was no on-court celebration and the veteran coach quietly retreated to his team's locker room after the game, no doubt relieved after the narrow win in Ohio State's first road game of the season.
Brandon nearly helped Cal pull off the comeback.
She scored on a driving layup through traffic to start an 8-0 run, then later made a three-point play with 42.1 seconds left to pull the Bears within 77-75.
Hill rushed a shot and was blocked by Gray with 23 seconds remaining. Brandon grabbed the rebound and Cal was able to get the ball down low for a quartet of shots in the final 5 seconds but failed to score.
This was Ohio State's first trip to Haas Pavilion since 2009 when the Buckeyes lost to Stanford in the Berkeley Regional of the NCAA tournament. They are 4-0 against the Bears.
Prahalis had 11 points in the first half while Hill added nine to give Ohio State a 45-40 lead at the break. It was the first time Cal trailed at the half this season.
Talia Caldwell finished with 13 points and six rebounds while Jemerigbe had 11 points for the Bears.