Tayler Hill, Samantha Prahalis team up to lead Ohio State
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State's 1-2 punch was great. But so were the rest of the Buckeyes.
Tayler Hill had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Samantha Prahalis added 19 points and nine assists to lead Ohio State (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) past Nebraska (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) 82-68 on Thursday night.
"They've got as good a guard play with the two of those guys as anybody in the country," Cornhuskers coach Connie Yori said.
But the rest of the Buckeyes needed to contribute -- and they did in a big way.
Ashley Adams had 13 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots for the Buckeyes (18-1, 5-1 Big Ten), with Amber Stokes adding 12 points. And the bench had 13 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Prahalis, the only senior on the roster, was asked how this year's team compares with others that have won two Big Ten titles and have made it to three NCAA tournaments.
"The other teams I've been on we had a lot of talent, just as much as this one," she said. "But this team is all about defense and hard work. This team has a little bit of a tough edge to it. It's not like we were soft in the past, but it's just a little different. We have a little bit more dog in us."
The previous four Ohio State teams featured All-American post player Jantel Lavender. This, coach Jim Foster's 10th Buckeyes team, doesn't have a dominant inside presence but still gets the job done.
"There's a lot of ways to play basketball -- a lot of ways," Foster said. "You figure out the attributes of the players you have and draw up a scheme and go play."
Ohio State shot 59 percent in the opening half in building a 41-36 lead and then broke the game open with a 10-2 second-half run.
Emily Cady scored a career-high 24 points, Jordan Hooper had 19 points and matched a career best with 14 rebounds and Lindsey Moore contributed 13 points for the Cornhuskers (15-3, 4-2), who lost their second in a row. They were beaten at home by Penn State 93-73 on Sunday.
The game featured four of the top six scorers in the Big Ten: Ohio State's Hill (first at 21.4 points per game) and Prahalis (fourth at 18.3), along with Nebraska's Hooper (third at 19.8) and Moore (sixth at 16.6).
Ahead by six at the half, Ohio State got off to a slow start in the second half, scoring just two points in the first 3 minutes.
But freshman Kalpana Beach's layup off an assist from Prahalis touched off a Buckeyes run. After a Nebraska miss, Adams hit a short jumper, and Kaitlyn Burke answered for the Cornhuskers. The Buckeyes then ran off six points, mostly due to their defense.
Stokes hit a spinning reverse layup, then Adams' long outlet pass led to Hill's breakaway layup. Hill then stole the ball and went coast to coast for a 51-39 lead.
The lead never fell below eight points again.
"Ohio State's really good, period, but they're really good in this building," Yori said. "They're good when they can get their transition game going and they scored 20 points unguarded -- they either stole it from us or they leaked out and got an easy basket. So transition offense was really critical."
It was unknown until Wednesday whether Hill would even play. She had been shaken up after running into a blind screen in the win at Michigan State on Sunday and hadn't felt well all week.
Foster said he knew when he saw her working out on Wednesday that she'd be fine by game time.
Like the rest of the Buckeyes, she's tough.
"Yeah, we're tough," he said. "I think we can get tougher."
2022-23 Big Ten Conference Standings