The 24th-ranked Buckeyes (2-0) nearly squandered a 16-point lead but held on for a 70-66 win over the visiting Owls (2-1) at Value City Arena.
Guards Tayler Hill and Samantha Prahalis led the way with 24 and 20 points, respectively. Each veteran hit a pair of free throws in the final minute to close things out when a couple of turnovers gave the Owls new life and defensive breakdowns led to Temple three-pointers.
"I'm sure their coach would have preferred they would be fouling our younger players, but we were smart enough to get the ball into the hands of our veterans," Ohio State head coach Jim Foster said.
He was satisfied to get the win over a team picked to contend for the Atlantic 10 title and coming off eight consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. He did not mind getting some good film to use to teach some of his younger players, either.
"What do I say? We won," he said. "You live and learn. You don't get better as a basketball team unless you go through experiences. I think Sammy's already analyzing what she can do to be better."
The first 10 minutes were so closely contested it took an unconventional play for either team to build a lead of more than one possession.
With the teams tied at 19, Hill hit a three-pointer from the left corner then was fouled by Tyonna Williams. Hill sank the ensuing free throw to finish the four-point play and put the Buckeyes ahead 23-19 with 10:21 left in the first half.
The teams traded baskets for the next five minutes until Hill gave Ohio State its first six-point lead with a steal and a fast-break layup at the 5:04 mark.
After Williams responded with a jumper, Ohio State scored the last four of the half to take the largest advantage of the contest into the locker room.
Hill and Prahalis led the way in establishing the 36-28 halftime score. Prahalis had 12 points and a pair of steals while Hill added 11 markers and two thefts. Hill hit 2 of 3 three-pointers and went 3 for 3 from the foul line as well.
The latter mark was part of a larger trend that saw the Buckeyes outscore the visitors 10-2 from the charity stripe. Ohio State was 10 of 14 in the first half while Temple went 2 for 5.
The Owls scored the first six points of the second half to draw within two points, but Ohio State answered with a run keyed by Darryce Moore.
The sophomore forward exhibited a nice pair of hands by snagging a rebound and putting back a Prahalis miss for two points then assisted on the next Buckeye basket by finding center Ashley Adams on the opposite block for a layup.
Hill followed with an open three-pointer in transition to make it 43-34, prompting Temple coach Tony Cardoza to call timeout with 16:10 left in the game.
That would do little to slow the Buckeyes, however, as they scored 10 of the next 13 points to open up a 53-37 lead by the midway point of the half.
The Owls would not go quietly into the night, however. They cut the lead to seven by the 5:30 mark before fall back to 13 down two minutes later.
Ohio State's lead was still a comfortable-looking 11 after Adams made one of two free throws to make it 66-55 with 1:17 left, but Temple guard Shey Peddy made a three to start an 8-0 run that would make the Ohio State partisans in a crowd of 3,659 fans at Value City Arena nervous.
Hill stopped that spurt with a pair of free throws, but Peddy tightened it up further with another trey that made it a two-point game with 14 seconds left.
Finally Prahalis iced it with a pair of free throws five seconds later.
Hill scored her career-high 24 points on 6 of 10 shooting from the field and by making 9 of 10 free throws. Prahalis was also proficient from the field and the charity stripe, going 8 for 16 and 4 for 4 respectively.
The two stayed aggressive all night. Be it on dribble drives or cuts without the ball, they seemed to always be going toward the basket.
"I think through our teammates and the offense we were just taking good shots, not forcing shots," said Hill, who missed two days of practice due to illness during the week.
Adams added 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists while junior guard Amber Stokes had 11 points and seven boards. Moore played a career-high 23 minutes and contributed four points and seven rebounds.
Stokes joined Prahalis and Hill in the postgame interview room, and none were excited about how the game had ended despite getting the victory.
"We came hard like we were supposed to, but like Coach Foster said we played hard 35 minutes but the last five minutes we kind of let up," Stokes said. "We need to stay focused for 40 minutes and take it from there."
Guard Kristen McCarthy led Temple with 14 points while B.J. Williams and Brittany Lewis added 13 apiece.