Zach Watson / Lantern photographer
After a decisive win against the Indiana Hoosiers, the No. 9 Ohio State women’s basketball team has crept within a half game of the conference lead.
Now, OSU will look to grab first place in the Big Ten when they travel to Penn State to face the No. 12 Nittany Lions (21-5, 11-3 Big Ten) Monday. The Lady Lions hold the top spot in the Big Ten, as well as a five-game winning streak after defeating No. 17 Purdue, 74-63, Thursday.
“You can never gauge your stuff on what other people are doing, whether they are coming in on a winning streak or a losing streak,” said OSU coach Jim Foster. “You got to stay focused on the topic at hand and that’s the next game.”
That task will include stopping sophomore guard Maggie Lucas, who had 28 points in the victory against the Boilermakers. Lucas scored 20 of those points in the second half, and five 3-pointers throughout the game.
“She’s able to get those three’s off and we just got to watch for her,” said redshirt junior guard Amber Stokes. “We know it’s going to be a competitive game.”
Lucas is averaging more than 19 points a game, while her teammates junior guard Alex Bentley and senior guard Zhaque Gray are averaging 14 and 10 points respectively. With its guards contributing a majority of its points, OSU is preparing to see a team that mirrors it’s own offensive attack.
“They’re good in transition, they like to push it, we like to push it,” Foster said. “There’s not a whole lot of teams in the league that like to go up and down … it’s going to be a fun game.”
Senior guard Samantha Prahalis and junior guard Tayler Hill combined, are averaging 41.1 points per game. While Prahalis sat out against Indiana due to an illness, she’s still averaging more than 25 points a game and needs 19 more assists to become the all-time Big Ten assist leader. She has 874 and is chasing Northwestern’s Nancy Kennelly, who set the record 892 career assists from 1989-93.
Monday’s game will be the first time OSU and Penn State have met since the Buckeyes defeated the Lady Lions, 84-70, in the 2011 Big Ten championship game.
After Monday’s game, OSU has two more games remaining, including a trip to No. 21 Nebraska (20-6, 9-5 Big Ten), before heading into tournament play. The Buckeyes will look to defend their 2011 title beginning March 1 in Indianapolis.
Monday’s game will be televised on ESPN2 with tipoff set for 7 p.m.