Ohio State senior guard Samantha Prahalis scored a career-high 34 points to lead the Buckeyes to a 72-58 victory over the Wisconsin women’s basketball team Monday night at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
The Badgers drained a school record 12 three pointers in the game and shot 50 percent from beyond the arc, but it was not enough to secure an upset road victory against No. 10 Ohio State, the highest-ranked team in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin (4-7 Big Ten, 8-15 overall) was again without the services of senior forward Anya Covington, who missed her second straight game due to illness. Her absence hurt the Badgers dearly, as the offense was unable to find any success inside the three-point line. Wisconsin shot a paltry 11 for 34 on two point shots and attempted only one free throw all game, a school record for fewest free throw attempts. To make matters worse, Ohio State (8-2, 21-2) blocked 12 shots in the contest.
“Anya being out this game probably hurt us more than the last [game],” head coach Bobbie Kelsey said. “But you have to play who is available, you can’t cry about who is not available. You have to play and you can’t fold up the tent because one person is out.”
The Badgers couldn’t get much to work near the basket, but hot three-point shooting ensured that they would not go quietly.
Down 35-25 at halftime, Wisconsin made five three pointers early in the second half and cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 49-46 with 12:05 remaining on a layup by senior forward Ashley Thomas. It was all Ohio State from that point on, as the Buckeyes went on a 16-3 run to take firm control of the game.
On top of her career scoring night, Prahalis also had five assists, four steals, and two rebounds. She did turn the ball over seven times, but she more than made up for it by making 12 of her 18 field goal attempts.
“Prahalis is one of the most talented guards we’ll see. She did a great job for her team,” Kelsey said of the Ohio State guard. “When you have a player like that—she’s not very big, she’s very effective, she can handle the ball and shoot.”
“I told our kids, ‘that’s a lesson for you,’” Kelsey added. “You don’t have to be big and you don’t have to be super quick but if you can handle the ball and shoot pull-up jumpers and threes, you can do a lot of damage out there and she showed that.”
OSU junior guard Tayler Hill came into Monday’s game as the leading scorer in the Big Ten at 21.5 points per game, and she finished with 18 points.
“Tayler Hill hit when we were standing right there and we didn’t challenge her,” Kelsey said. “It’s just little things like that that really hurt you. I expect more from them and that’s why I’m pretty mad about it.
Junior guard Taylor Wurtz led the Badgers with 20 points. She also set a career-high in assists with seven. Sophomore guard Morgan Paige had 14 points and senior guard Jade Davis added 11 points. Wisconsin’s bench was unable to contribute offensively, collectively shooting 2 for 14 from the field in the game.
The Buckeyes had eight days of rest coming into Monday’s game and wanted to rebound from a 76-65 loss to unranked Minnesota on Jan. 29. Ohio State’s victory secured a season sweep of the Badgers. Wisconsin fell to the Buckeyes 77-61 at the Kohl Center back on Dec. 30, and the Badgers have now lost in 20 straight meetings with Ohio State.
Wisconsin will face yet another ranked Big Ten team on the road this week with a visit to No. 18 Penn State Thursday. The two teams met in Madison on Jan. 2, and the Nittany Lions cruised to an 82-49 win in that game.
UWBadgers.com contributed to this report.