Monday’s battle for first place in the Big Ten women’s basketball standings was deserving of a first-class performance, and Penn State provided it against Ohio State.
The No. 9 Buckeyes team fell to the No. 12 Nittany Lions, 84-66, Monday night at the Jordan Center in State College, Pa.
Even with senior guard Samantha Prahalis back in the lineup following her return from an illness that kept her out of OSU’s win against Indiana on Thursday, the Buckeyes couldn’t keep pace with the PSU scoring attack.
The Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes were tied at nine early in the first half before PSU went on a 9-0 run, and eventually kept the lead for the entire half. OSU came within five points following a layup by freshman forward Kalpana Beach that cut the Lady Lions’ advantage to 22-17, but OSU wouldn’t come any closer. The Buckeyes went into the locker rooms at half trailing, 45-30.
OSU saw little improvement in the second half as Penn State increased the lead to 21 following a 3-pointer by Penn State senior guard Zhaque Gray to make the score 70-49.
OSU shot more than 40 percent while the Lady Lions were 38 percent from the field. The Buckeyes outshot Penn State, but the Lady Lions won the rebounding battle, 60-32. PSU had 29 of those rebounds on the offensive end, which helped PSU accumulate 34 points in the paint.
With the victory, PSU clinches at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title. It’s the first time the Lady Lions have clinched the crown since 2004.
PSU was led in scoring by junior forward Nikki Greene’s 25 points and 15 rebounds. Greene was followed by redshirt junior forward Mia Nickson, who tallied 18 points and 15 rebounds.
Prahalis and junior guard Tayler Hill led OSU in scoring, who each scored 16 points in the game.
The Buckeyes return to action Thursday when they face Minnesota Golden Gophers (14-14, 6-8 Big Ten). Minnesota defeated OSU, 76-65, earlier this season. Thursday’s game at the Schottenstein Center is set for 8 p.m.