COLUMBUS, Ohio – It was a startling contrast: One team so deep that it could afford to be without the Big Ten's leading scorer, the other struggling to try to compete and end a long skid.
No. 9 Ohio State didn't have Samantha Prahalis, averaging 21.8 points a game in conference play and seventh in the nation in assists at 6.7 per game, because of the flu.
But the Buckeyes got 27 points from Tayler Hill and major contributions from several others, never trailing in handing Indiana a 75-54 loss on Thursday night.
It was the 13th defeat in a row for the Hoosiers (5-21, 0-13 Big Ten).
Coach Felisha Legette-Jack tried to be positive. She compared her program's hardships to how far the Hoosiers' men's team has come.
"You watch an Indiana men's team go through this same kind of a tumultuous situation," she said of coach Tom Crean's squad's struggles in recent years. "You look at them now and they're 20 wins in and with lots of games to play and that gives you hope that you, too, can fix this thing."
She said her biggest hope was that the young players would get a feel for what it's like to win.
"I know that we have a young group of kids who are going to get better," she said. "If we stay true to the task and not worry about the slump that we're in ... good things can happen. We're going to keep fighting to the finish."
Aulani Sinclair had 23 points and Quaneisha McCurty 11 for the Hoosiers.
Meanwhile, Ohio State (23-3, 10-3) moved into a tie for first place with Penn State in the Big Ten. And the Buckeyes did it without Prahalis, who had hit for 77 points over the last three games — and had started the last 48 games for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State adapted.
"Other people had to step up a little bit," coach Jim Foster said.
Plenty did. Amber Stokes added 14 points and a career-high seven assists, and Kalpana Beach matched a career high with 13 points. Ten players scored, 11 had rebounds and eight had assists in the rout.
"What went wrong is the No. 9 team in the country showed up," Legette-Jack said. "(Their) point guard went down, but this is a team that knows how to win, that has a history of winning."
Ohio State has won its last nine against the Hoosiers.
The Buckeyes won the first meeting at Indiana 73-55 on Jan. 26. In that game, Hill and Prahalis each had 18 points, with Prahalis adding nine assists and five rebounds. The Hoosiers led by a point at halftime before the Buckeyes outscored them 48-29 in the final 20 minutes.
This one was never that close — even without Prahalis.
Ohio State was quickly on top 5-0 and was up by double figures most of the night — despite 22 turnovers and some difficulty with Indiana's zone defense.
The Hoosiers trailed 43-34 after Danilsa Andujar's shot inside. But the Buckeyes then took control.
Beach hit a 10-footer and after an Indiana miss, Stokes made a pull-up jumper from the right elbow. Hill hit a layup and Raven Ferguson took a long pass and hit a layup to push the lead to 51-34.
The Hoosiers never got closer than 15 points again.
Legette-Jack said her team is just trying to take small steps.
"We're a team that's really trying to figure out what winning feels like," she said. "We haven't done that in a long time. So a young team, not knowing what it feels like, and then a couple of mistakes at the beginning of the game puts you in the hole and it's hard to dig out of that hole because you haven't had that experience."
She said the Hoosiers lost confidence after making errors.
"As you noticed in the second half, we made mistakes and we got tight and we dropped our heads and the ball was right near us," she said. "We pouted for a second, and then realized the ball was right there. Then it's too late. Because you dropped your head for a second. It's a game of freedom. You're going to make mistakes, but if you keep your eyes on the ball you might just get it."
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