8-15, 4-7 Conf
21-2, 8-2 Conf

Samantha Prahalis' career-high 34 lifts Ohio St. by Wisconsin

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- After a difficult loss, Samantha Prahalis decided to assert herself even more.

Prahalis scored a career-high 34 points and Ohio State (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) made the most of an eight-day layoff to beat Wisconsin 72-58 on Monday night, the Buckeyes' 20th consecutive victory over the Badgers.

The Buckeyes (21-2, 8-2 Big Ten) had lots of time to mull a disappointing 76-65 loss at Minnesota on Jan. 29.

"I kind of wanted to come out aggressive," Prahalis said. "Not necessarily was I passive in the game that we lost, but I felt like I could have been more aggressive. So today I made it a point to be."

Usually, Prahalis thinks first about spreading the offense among her teammates. She came in averaging 19 points but almost seven assists.

She made 12 of 18 shots from the field, 4 of 5 behind the arc and all six free throws to go with five assists, two rebounds and four steals.

"She had some very good opportunities early and felt good about herself," coach Jim Foster said.

Tayler Hill, the Big Ten's leading scorer, added 18 points for the Buckeyes, who broke the game open with a 16-3 second-half run.

"Prahalis is a very tough cover, Hill as well," Wisconsin coach Bobbie Kelsey said. "We didn't do a very good job of guarding those two."

Taylor Wurtz had 20 points and Morgan Paige 14 for Wisconsin (8-15, 4-7), which hit a school-record 12 3-pointers. The Badgers were 12 of 24 behind the arc, breaking the mark of 11 which they had hit seven times including twice earlier this season.

But that didn't make Kelsey all that happy.

"There were some positive things -- we were hitting our 3-point shots," she said. "But, again, they had 12 blocks. When are you going to figure out that you cannot go in there and get blocked every single time. I don't know what people are thinking on my team. It's disheartening when you see the same thing over and over and over again."

A 7-0 run, capped by Ashley Thomas' second straight basket on a driving layup off an assist from Wurtz, cut what had been a 13-point second half deficit to just 49-46 with 12 minutes remaining.

Foster called a timeout and "had some words for us," Prahalis said.

"We just were in an area defensively where we weren't playing at the level we need to play at," he said. "I just reiterated that. We got much more aggressive at that end of the floor."

The difference was apparent.

"We responded pretty well," Prahalis said. "We just made it important and got out there a little quicker."

Darryce Moore banked in a short shot and Hill hit a fastbreak layup off Prahalis' assist to make it 53-46. After yet another 3 for Wisconsin, this one by Jacki Gulczynski to tie the school record, Ohio State went on a 12-0 run to push the lead to 65-49.

Raven Ferguson scored on a reverse layup, Hill hit a long 3 and then Prahalis stole the ball from Jade Davis, collected the rolling ball at midcourt, and then racing in for the layup. Hill then had a three-point play and Prahalis two free throws before Paige broke a 4½-minute drought with a record 12th 3-pointer.

The Buckeyes led 35-25 after Prahalis had a huge half.

"My shot felt good so that's why I was kind of in a flow this game," she said.

She didn't learn she had set a new career standard until she came to the bench with just over a minute left.

Prahalis scored Ohio State's first six points before assisting on a Hill bucket for an 8-0 lead. She scored or assisted on nine of Ohio State's first 11 baskets and had outscored Wisconsin by herself until there was just under 5 minutes left in the half.

The Badgers were up to their usual tricks, hitting 5 of 9 3-pointers to narrow what had been a 14-point deficit to 29-23 late in the half.

Wisconsin needs only 20 3-pointers to break the school record of 174 set in 2001-2.

Kelsey wasn't a bit surprised at the way Prahalis played.

"When you can handle the ball and shoot, you're not worried about who's guarding you. You don't care," she said of the 5-foot-7 point guard. "She's supremely confident. She knows she can get a shot up anytime she wants to, or she can get it to somebody who can make a layup. When you've got a kid like that on your team, you've got a chance to do something special. And they probably will."