Tough Test Lies Ahead in Columbus

Jan. 2, 2012

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.


IOWA CITY, Iowa — It is never easy to win on the road in the Big Ten Conference. It is even tougher to post a victory when the opponent is unbeaten and ranked in the top 10 in the nation.

The University of Iowa women’s basketball team (8-5, 1-0) will be dealt that task today, when it faces ninth ranked Ohio State (14-0, 1-0) in Columbus, Ohio.

“I know this — they are scoring a lot of points,” said UI head coach Lisa Bluder, who guided the Hawkeyes to an 86-55 rout of Northwestern in the Big Ten opener. “Eighty points a game, and two of their players, Samantha Prahalis and Tayler Hill, are averaging half of the team points.

“They look like they are taking a lot of pride in their defense and scoring points off their defense and are winning games by 30 points a game. We only get one shot at them, and it’s on their home floor. It’s an important game for both teams when you only get one shot.”

Hill, a junior guard from Minneapolis, has emerged as a star this season, leading the Buckeyes in scoring at 21.2 points per game.

Prahalis, the Buckeyes’ four-year starting point guard, is averaging 17.5 points and 7.4 assists per game in her senior year, while shooting 92 percent from the free throw line — the top mark in the conference.

Prahalis’s fiery edge on the basketball court may not be admired by all, but Bluder says that competitive demeanor is what makes her so good.

“She’s got the swag,” said Bluder. “She knows that she’s good and brings it out on the floor. She plays with a little bit of a chip on her shoulder, and she’s going to rub it in your face. She enjoys playing that way.”

A number of players will take turns guarding Prahalis, and odds are, junior Jaime Printy will be one of them.

Since coming to Iowa, Printy has been a part of a number of thrilling contests against Ohio State, including a loss to the Buckeyes in the 2010 Big Ten Tournament championship game and last year’s 71-61 loss in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. The Hawkeyes have not come away empty handed against Ohio State, knocking them off last season in Iowa City, 89-76.

This recent string of exciting games between the schools has Printy and the Hawkeyes ready and eager for the upcoming challenge on the road.

“It’s always a lot of fun to play Ohio State,” said Printy, who is leading the Hawkeyes with a 17.4 scoring average. “They’re a great team, and they’ve got some great players. Ever since my freshman year in that championship game, we’ve always looked forward to playing them. It’s going to be tough on their home court, but I think we’re going to be focused this week in practice and come ready to play.”

Tipoff for Monday’s game is slated for 11 a.m. (CT), and it will be televised live on BTN with Lisa Byington and Debbie Antonelli calling the action.