Prahalis set the Big Ten's all-time assist record Friday and led the league in scoring during conference games, while Hill topped the scoring chart in overall games. Together, the two averaged 41.1 points per game heading into Friday's Big Ten tournament quarterfinal, the most by a duo in major college basketball this season.
But when the going got tough during the second-seeded Buckeyes' 57-48 victory over Michigan in Indianapolis' Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Ohio State turned in a different direction – to Kalpana Beach, Darryce Moore and Amber Stokes.
"Sammy and Tayler, they carry us the majority of the time, and the rest of us try to get involved and we try to contribute," Stokes said afterward. "We just want to continue to try to help them out. It is nice that we have people on the team that can add certain things to the table. It helps us as a team and it just shows the chemistry that we have. As long as we stay together we can do big things."
The Buckeyes were able to show that depth when seventh-seeded Michigan cut into what had been a big Buckeye lead in the second half. Ohio State had seen its 45-29 advantage sliced to six in a quick span of three minutes, but the Buckeyes had the answer after a media timeout.
Moore came out of the timeout and stemmed the Wolverines' tide, taking an entry pass from Beach and scoring to stop the 10-0 run with 6:23 to play.
"Usually when they get on a run you want to stop them," Moore said after her only bucket of the game. "The bucket was big. I've been in that situation during the season, so it's just like another game."
The sophomore from Youngstown then contributed on the other end, grabbing a rebound after a missed three-pointer by Michigan's Brenae Harris. Stokes missed a jumper on the other end – pushing her to an ice-cold 1 for 8 – before getting another chance, and the junior converted with a running layup while getting fouled to increase OSU's advantage back to double digits.
"Oh my gosh, today just wasn't my day, but I got one to go in and I was happy with that," she said.
Michigan got some back with a three-pointer on the other end by Courtney Boylan, but Moore and Beach made sure the Wolverines didn't go on a run. They switched roles from their earlier basket on OSU's next trip down the floor, as Moore snuck a pass in to Beach for a layup that made the score 51-42.
That basket was Beach's last of the game, and the true freshman finished with 12 points and seven rebounds while playing 22 minutes in her first Big Ten tournament start. Points have seemingly come in streaks for her of late, as she had 13 on Feb. 16 vs. Indiana, 12 in the next game at Penn State and then was held scoreless against both Minnesota and Nebraska to end the season.
"The last two games were frustrating, but I knew I could pick it up," she said. "I just knew I had to come out with a lot of energy. It was good. I knew I needed to come out and rebound and help score when I could, and that's what I did."
Moore added three rebounds and an assist while Stokes tied a season high with nine rebounds and had an assist, a block and two steals to go with her four points. Her steal with 1:36 left helped short-circuit Michigan's late attempt at a comeback, too.
"I got to contribute in other ways," Stokes said, referring to her shooting struggles. "I got a couple of rebounds and I was playing good defense, so as long as I'm contributing in other ways, I'm good."
Those contributions were one reason Ohio State was able to keep its Big Ten tournament winning streak alive despite Prahalis finishing only 4 of 15 from the floor with seven turnovers.
"Going into the game, we know Prahalis and Tayler Hill take 50 or 60 percent of their shots every single game," said Michigan senior guard/forward Carmen Reynolds, a native of Hilliard. "You know you really have to key in on those two players, they're so talented, and that's what we tried to do."
But that just opened things up for players like Beach, Stokes and Moore. Prahalis, who still had 11 points and eight rebounds, was happy to see her teammates chip in.
"Darryce and K.P. had a couple of big shots for us," she said. "At times I think our post players held us up a bit, so I think we've got to keep that up."