Ohio State point guard Samantha Prahalis didn’t disappoint in her season debut.
The flashy guard from Commack, N.Y., scored 18 points and recorded eight assists as the No. 7 OSU women’s basketball team (4-0) defeated East Tennessee State (2-2) 80-47 Monday night. Prahalis made her first appearance of the season after an NCAA-imposed three-game suspension stemming from a secondary violation committed in the offseason.
She recorded her first assist of the season on the Buckeyes’ second offensive possession, finding center Jantel Lavender underneath the hoop for a basket. OSU jumped out to an 11-2 advantage to start the game.
OSU coach Jim Foster said he knew his point guard was eager to make her return to action.
“If you know Sammy, sitting at home for three games, I’m sure that there’s some marks on her wallpaper from crawling up the walls,” Foster said.
ETSU battled back, taking a 20-19 lead off of a Shawn Randall 3-point shot with less than seven minutes remaining in the first half. Lavender regained the lead for the Buckeyes on the next possession with a jumper, which started a 17-0 run to close the half for OSU.
The Buckeyes never looked back.
“We acted like a veteran team,” Foster said. “You’ve got to adjust. You figure out what works for you, and what hurts them.”
Lavender finished the game with 18 points and 11 rebounds and Tayler Hill scored 16 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and had five assists for the Buckeyes.
Prahalis displayed her signature flash, using the no-look passes and scooping lay-ups that have made her one of the most exciting players in the nation. However, she also showed signs of rust, committing nine turnovers.
“I was a little bit anxious,” Prahalis said. “I said to a couple of girls in the locker room that I felt like I was a freshman. I was a little bit nervous.”
Prahalis left the game with more than nine minutes remaining after a cramp had her limping following a steal and subsequent fast break lay-up. She returned to the game five minutes later.
The Buckeyes next play on Sunday, when they host UNC-Wilmington.