BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Ohio State coach Jim Foster never flinched, even though his Buckeyes (No. T-9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) trailed last-place Indiana at halftime.
Even with Ohio State a game behind Purdue for the Big Ten lead and seemingly on the verge of slipping against a Hoosier team that was winless in conference play, Foster remained calm.
His team showed why. Samantha Prahalis had 18 points and nine assists to help the Buckeyes beat Indiana 73-55 Thursday night.
"It's a long season," he said. "It's our 21st game. You're not going to play from in front all the time. You're going to get behind."
Tayler Hill, the Big Ten's leading scorer, produced all 18 of her points in the second half and Ashley Adams had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Buckeyes (20-1, 7-1 Big Ten). Purdue (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) defeated Northwestern on Thursday night to remain a game ahead of the Buckeyes.
Ohio State, the conference's highest-scoring team at nearly 79 points per game, trailed 26-25 at halftime. The Buckeyes shot 60 percent from the field in the second half and held Indiana to 28 percent shooting after the break. Ohio State scored 25 points off of Indiana's 16 turnovers.
"I just think we needed to bring more energy, pick up the defense a little bit more," Prahalis said in a relaxed, matter-of-fact tone. "That was basically it. Maybe we weren't all on the same page at first. We just picked it up."
No big deal.
Aulani Sinclair scored a career-high 27 points for Indiana (5-16, 0-8). Jasmine McGhee had nine points and 12 rebounds but shot 3-for-16 from the field. Sasha Chaplin added six points and 11 rebounds for the Hoosiers, who lost their eighth consecutive game.
Indiana jumped out to a quick 11-6 lead by making five of its first eight shots. The Hoosiers extended their advantage to 20-12 before Ohio State finally rallied.
The Buckeyes began trapping late in the first half, and it rattled the Hoosiers. A 3-pointer by Raven Ferguson cut Indiana's lead to one late in the half, but the Hoosiers held onto the slimmest of leads at the break.
"We should have never started that slow," Hill said.
Indiana outrebounded the Buckeyes 30-16 in the first half, something Foster blew off.
"If we were down 20, I would say that's a significant number, but how many quality shots came after those rebounds?"
Prahalis gave Ohio State the lead with a jumper less than a minute into the second half, and she was just getting started. She either scored or assisted on Ohio State's first nine points of the half. A steal and layup by Hill, her first points, gave the Buckeyes a 36-26 lead with 16:36 remaining. Indiana went scoreless for more than four minutes at the start of the second half against Ohio State's pressure.
"They put a lot more pressure on us, and we went the speed that they wanted us to go," Indiana coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. "The gameplan was if we had to get a 5-second call, we'd rather get a 5-second call than a turnover. We went faster than we wanted to go."
Foster was pleased with the way his team handled the new approach.
"We can play a lot of different ways," he said. "We're not locked into one way of playing basketball. We work on a press every day, but we don't necessarily press often. But we use it."
Even with Ohio State's ugly first half, Legette-Jack predicted big things for the Buckeyes.
"This team should go to the Elite Eight," she said. "This is a very good team."