Eric Beiersdorfer / Lantern photographer
For the 17th consecutive year, the Ohio State women’s basketball team opened its season with a victory as the Buckeyes knocked off Tennessee State, 78-51, Sunday at the Schottenstein Center.
Ten players scored for the Buckeyes, with senior guard Samantha Prahalis and junior guard Tayler Hill leading the way with 17 points each. Freshman forward Kalpana Beach, in her first-ever game for OSU, contributed 10 points and six rebounds.
Beach said she found out just before the game that she was starting.
“I knew it was going to be a lot different than high school,” Beach said. “So I just was going to go out and play as hard as I could and try not to make too many mistakes.”
“(Beach) was nervous before the game,” Hill said with a smile following the victory.
OSU surged out to a 48-21 halftime lead, holding TSU to 30 percent shooting in the first half and not allowing any second-chance or fast-break points.
The Tigers kept pace with the Buckeyes during the second half with both teams notching 30 points.
Coach Jim Foster attributed the drop in production in the second half to inconsistent offensive play.
“I thought we started the game very aggressively,” Foster said. “I think it’s difficult to play 12 people and continue with continuity on offense. I think that’s probably what showed in the second half.”
With Prahalis as the lone senior to go along with three juniors on the roster, OSU is the youngest team in the Big Ten, according to NCAA data.
Foster said the early games in the season are vital in the development of the younger players.
“I think one of the things that a young team needs to learn is that when you come in at halftime and sit down you’ve got to continue to be engaged when you go out there for the second half, regardless of what the score is,” Foster said.
For the game, the Buckeyes shot 48 percent from the field to go along with a 23-for-29 clip from the free-throw line. OSU held a decisive advantage in free-throw attempts, with TSU only generating nine attempts from the line.
OSU suffered a bit of a scare late in the second half when Prahalis, voted co-Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year by the conference’s coaches, was helped off the court by trainers when she fell and cramped up.
Prahalis returned to action a few minutes later to finish the contest and assured reporters following the game that she was fine.
The Buckeyes take to the Schottenstein Center court again to play Temple at 6 p.m. on Friday. OSU defeated the Owls, 84-75, on the road last season.