No. 7 Ohio St. 80, ETSU 47
It didn't take long for Samantha Prahalis to make her presence felt in her first game back with Ohio State.
Prahalis had to serve a three-game suspension for NCAA secondary violations but the 2009-10 All-Big Ten point guard resumed her starting spot and needed only 26 seconds for her first assist on a feed to Jantel Lavender.
The Buckeyes (4-0) were off and running to an 80-47 victory against East Tennessee State. Prahalis had 18 points, eight assists but nine turnovers in 31 minutes.
''Sometimes (Prahalis) was trying to play four games into one,'' Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. ''She'll slow down.''
Prahalis had her first basket 2 1/2 minutes into the game but her flair showed moments later when she dished the ball to the left corner. As Brittany Johnson unleashed a 3-pointer, Prahalis backpedaled toward the center circle with three right fingers in the air before the ball swished the net.
''I was ready to get back. I was a little bit anxious,'' Prahalis said. ''I felt like I was a freshman, I was a little bit nervous because they had three games under their belt.
''I wanted to be in there and catch up with them,'' she added. ''I didn't think I would ever feel like a freshman again.''
Despite Prahalis' energy, the Buckeyes (4-0) trailed 20-19 with 7 minutes left in the first half before scoring the final 17 points leading into the break.
''We acted like a veteran team,'' Foster said. ''This is the fourth straight team we've played that won 20-plus games last year.''
Prahalis helped the cause with a no-look layup from the left side as she was fouled. She made the free throw for a 32-20 lead but Tayler Hill was the catalyst during the streak with eight points.
Hill, who played all 120 minutes in the first three games in Prahalis' absence, finished with 18 points.
''She's more comfortable,'' Prahalis said. ''She's not only making herself better but everyone else better. Playing the point for those three games when I was out helped her.'' Jantel Lavender led all scorers with 20 points and added 11 rebounds. She credited the return of Prahalis for pacing the team's offense.
''She is a good open-floor-player,'' Lavender said. ''Without her, it was a lot slower place.'' Natalie Pickwell had 16 points for the Lady Buccaneers (2-2) but cold shooting doomed ETSU late in the opening half. They missed their final 11 shots from the floor, two free throws and committed seven turnovers as OSU took a 16-point lead.