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Published: Monday, 3/19/2012

Big Ten player of the year Prahalis couldn’t find rhythm

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis drives to the basket while being guarded by Florida's Lanita Bartley in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Women's basketball tournament at Bowling Green State University. Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis drives to the basket while being guarded by Florida's Lanita Bartley in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Women's basketball tournament at Bowling Green State University.
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BOWLING GREEN — Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis entered the Buckeyes’ NCAA tournament contest Sunday as one of the most highly regarded guards in the country.

The senior struggled offensively, and those struggles played a role in OSU’s 70-65 loss to Florida at the Stroh Center.

Prahalis, the Big Ten’s player of the year, entered the game ranked second in the league in scoring (20.1), and first in assists (6.4). She had just nine points and three assists — with all of those points and all but one assist coming in the first half.

“She’s the kind of player that needs a rhythm,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said of Prahalis. “I don’t think she ever got comfortable.

“When those first couple [of shots] didn’t drop, you could see her starting to press a little bit.”

Florida coach Amanda Butler said part of the reason her team was able to contain Prahalis was that the Gators had a number of game plans to stop her.

“From who was going to be on her to whether we should switch,” she said of those plans. “We didn’t say we’re going to do this one thing, because we knew they would adjust, and she would adjust.

“And she also just missed a few shots. Some times we didn’t play great defense, but she just didn’t hit [her shots].”

Prahalis was 4-for-7 from the field in the first half but missed all six shots in the second, and tied her lowest point total of the season.

“I don’t like to see Sammy go out the way she went out,” Foster said.

“It’s a shame that Sammy has to go out feeling the way she feels right now.”

BAND TOGETHER: Cal Santa Barbara brought its pep band to the Stroh Center for the tournament. Well, most of its pep band.

The Gauchos’ pep band included some members of the Bowling Green State University band program.

“They contacted us and asked if we had some kids who would be willing to play,” said Carol Hayward, BG’s director of athletic bands.

“They asked for a specific instrumentation — a couple of tuba players, a trumpet, a trombone, two flutes and a tenor sax.”

Trumpet player Angela Berens, a junior from Avon, Ohio, was one of those who answered the call.

“I thought it would be an interesting and exciting opportunity,” she said. “We were all sight-reading. It was all about jumping in and figuring it out as you go.”

Berens said enjoyed her one-game stint as a member of the Gauchos’ pep band.

“They gave us the hat and the [serape],” Berens said. “They do a lot of different cheers, and I thought it was cool to see how much school spirit they had and how much they were ‘into’ the game.

“I was [sad they lost the game], but it was fun.”

THREE-DOT DATA: Ohio State freshman Maleeka Kynard, a Start grad, played the final six seconds of the first half of her team’s game against Florida and did not have any stats. … One of the officials for the OSU-Florida contest was Dee Kantner, who was one of the first women to officiate in the NBA and currently serves as the supervisor of officials for the WNBA. … One of Kantner’s partners on that crew is named Gadi “Gator” Parrish.



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