Prahalis lifts No. 10 OSU women past No. 16 PurdueBy RUSTY MILLER, AP Sports Writer Sunday, Feb 12, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—Samantha Prahalis, the only senior on Ohio State’s roster, has been through a lot of battles on the court.
So it figured that when the No. 10 Buckeyes were badly in need of a bucket on Sunday against No. 16 Purdue, it was their most experienced player who supplied a dagger of a 3-pointer with 41 seconds left to pave the way to an 80-71 victory.
“We grinded it out, we played as a team and we won,” said the diminutive point guard, who notched 21 of her 26 points after halftime.
Down as many as eight points earlier in the half, Ohio State fought back with a 12-3 run capped by a pair of free throws from Prahalis to take a 51-50 lead with 12:32 left. The teams then traded baskets and the lead to the finish.
The Buckeyes (22-3, 9-3 Big Ten) finally took the lead for good on a hustle play. With a loose ball sitting on the floor between two Purdue players in the Boilermakers’ backcourt, Prahalis swooped in, scooped it up and went the length of the court to put the Buckeyes up 67-65 with 4:07 remaining.
But the Boilermakers (19-6, 9-3) wouldn’t go away. Courtney Moses hit a left-handed follow with just over a minute left to narrow what had been a six-point deficit to 73-71.
Ohio State called timeout with 43 seconds left. Prahalis, the Big Ten’s second-leading scorer at 21.4 points a game, tossed an inbound pass to center Ashley Adams, who quickly kicked it right back to her. Prahalis’ 3-pointer from the right wing pushed the lead to five and spurred a clinching 7-0 run over the final minute.
“Ashley posted up pretty strong and I saw that she was open, so I passed to her,” Prahalis said. “She made a great pass back and I hit it.”
Purdue coach Sharon Versyp regretted a slip by her defense.
“We just made a mistake, a big one,” she said. “If we could have had a good defensive stand, then we had a play set up to come down and execute. Them nailing that shot, obviously, was the big key.”
It was a designed play for the Buckeyes, with Adams as the first option and Prahalis a secondary threat on the perimeter.
“It’s something we work on, something we talk about,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. “It’s a read that if (the Boilermakers) do what they did, we go directly to Ashley. And the inbounder (Prahalis) steps back on the floor and we throw it back to her.”
Amber Stokes added 14 points and Adams 13, while conference scoring leader Tayler Hill wasn’t much of a factor offensively before hitting two late free throws. She finished with 12 points.
The Buckeyes played with desperation in the second half, well aware that a loss would put them two games off the pace in the conference with just four games left.
“We knew that our future was in our hands,” Stokes said. “We knew what we needed to do. We got the W, so we’re happy.”
Brittany Rayburn had 22 points, and Sam Ostarello 12 points and 10 rebounds for Purdue, which dominated the boards 41-24 but committed 18 turnovers.
Purdue, winless in Columbus since January 2004, led by six at the half and was on top most of the second half until the Buckeyes caught up in the final frantic minutes.
Now the Boilermakers have to regroup and refocus for what promises to be a wild two weeks.
“You always say that the next game is important,” Versyp said. “Well, when it comes down the stretch, jockeying for the top four spots (in the Big Ten tournament), you’ve got to take care of your home and you’ve got to steal some on the road.”
Ohio State improved to 17-0 at home this season just a day after the Buckeyes’ third-ranked men’s team—which had also been 17-0 at home—had their 39-game win streak in Columbus ended by No. 11 Michigan State, 58-48.
Foster was already thinking about the next thing on his to-do list.
“They get a day off tomorrow and then I’ve got to remind them Tuesday that we’ve got to get better,” he said with a grin.
Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap .