Gophers downed by Prahalis, Buckeyes

Samantha Prahalis scored 42 points as Ohio State down the Gophers 81-56.

by Betsy Helfand

Thursday night was Senior Night in Columbus, Ohio, but it might as well have been renamed “Samantha Prahalis Night,” as she led No. 8 Ohio State to a 81-56 win over Minnesota.

The Gophers couldn’t find any answers for Prahalis, Ohio State’s only senior.

Prahalis set a Buckeyes record with 42 points. She went 15-of-27 shooting, which included 7-of-12 from three-point range.

She started her team’s offense by scoring their first eight points.

Rachel Banham scored the Gophers first seven points, and once again led the team in scoring.

After that point, the Gophers were seemingly out of the game. Tied at 10-10, the Buckeyes went on a 14-0 run and never looked back.

At one point in the second half, Ohio State had a 28-point lead.

Banham scored 18 points to extend her double-figure scoring streak to 25 games, proof that she has been the model of consistency on a team that otherwise has been streaky.

Micaella Riche contributed her first career double-double. She doubled her previous career-high of 7 points with 14. She finished the night with 11 rebounds; her previous record was six.

Riche drew praise from head coach Pam Borton earlier this week.

Borton said that Riche had been playing better as of late, and that she had “become more comfortable being out there on the floor,” and with her role on this team.

Besides Banham and Riche, Minnesota’s offense was relatively quiet.

Kiara Buford, the team’s second leading scorer, went 2-of-13 shooting on the night, and scored just six points. Katie Loberg pitched in just two points.

Minnesota struggled on both ends of the floor. It shot just 17-of-59 from the field, and once again was hurt by turnover trouble. The Gophers committed 18 to Ohio State’s 8. Buford and Riche led the team with four apiece.

Prahalis, however, was the story of the night.  Ohio State’s highest single-game point record was 40.

She scored her 41st point after she was fouled by Leah Cotton with 2:27 remaining.

The Buckeyes virtually dashed any shot of an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament the Gophers had.

Minnesota will next travel to Penn State to take on the No. 11 Lady Lions. The Lady Lions narrowly defeated the Gophers 68-65 the last time the two teams faced off.