Wolverines Rally to Defeat Buckeyes, Sweep Regular-Season Series
By Tony Gerdeman
Center Rachel Sheffer scored 23 points for the Wolverines, as Michigan (13-7, 6-2) went into Value City Arena and upset the #24 Buckeyes (13-7, 4-4) 69-66, overcoming a 13-point halftime deficit in the process.
A tale of two halves would be too simplistic to describe this game. The Buckeyes opened the show with consecutive three pointers from guards Brittany Johnson and Samantha Prahalis to take a 6-0 lead before Michigan could even get on the board. But once they got on the board, they kept getting on the board.
After missing their initial three-point attempt, Michigan made their next seven in a row, with the seventh tying the game at 25-25. From that point on, however, Michigan finsished the half making just one of their next four three-point attempts.During that dry spell the Buckeyes closed out the half on a 21-8 run to lead 46-33 at the half.
Prahalis played a virtually flawless first half, shooting 7-7 from the field, including 5-5 from behind the three-point line. She led everybody in scoring at the half with 19 points.
As a team, the Buckeyes were 9-14 from three-point land, but that number was almost as much of a curse as it was a blessing.
“I was not happy with our first half other than we made shots,” said Buckeye coach Jim Foster.
“We never established Jantel and never established her game. We were not involved in the post game. The difference in what they did and what we did is they hit ten three-point shots, but they never forgot the post game.”
“I was really frustrated,” said Lavender.
“I think like Coach said, when I did have some good looks it didn’t get there. It was kind of frustrating when you can’t do what you like doing.”
Not only was Ohio State never able to establish Lavender, who came into this game averaging 23.3 points per game, but the twin towers look with Ashley Adams and Lavender together that the Buckeyes have used of late proved not to be an advantage against Michigan's offensively versatile post players.
“You're asking a player to defend the basket area and the perimeter area, and I don't think she's quite ready to defend them both at the same time,” explained Foster when asked about Adams only playing eleven minutes.
“And the player that she's guarding has the ability to play low and then step out and make a three, so she was a little backwards at times.”
Along with not being able to establish an interior game, the Buckeyes' shots stopped falling. After shooting 15-26 from the field in the first half, they shot 7-26 in the second half, and just 2-7 from three-point territory.
Michigan didn't shoot well themselves in the second half (just 2-10 from three-point range), but they were able to chip away in other areas. They forced eleven second half turnovers, while only turning it over six times themselves. Michigan also made all twelve of their free throw attempts in the final twenty minutes, while the Buckeyes went just 4-9.
“We couldn’t get a stop,” said Prahalis.
“Then on offense it was kind of dull and stale. We weren’t really moving or getting into a fluid rhythm.”
Despite it all Ohio State was still leading 66-62 with 1:43 to play. Sheffer cut the lead to one on a clutch post move while getting fouled, which turned into a three-point play with 1:22 remaining.
The Buckeyes missed two shots on their next possession, giving Michigan the ball with 57 seconds to play and down by a single point.
The Wolverines went down low to Sheffer for the lead. Her shot was blocked by forward Alison Jackson, but Jackson was whistled for the foul. Sheffer stepped up and made both free throws, giving Michigan the lead with 29 seconds to play.
Prahalis held the ball as the clocked ticked down, then airballed a forced jumper with five seconds on the clock, but Jackson was there to grab the rebound and attempt a putback. She missed the shot, but was fouled with under four seconds to play.
After missing her first free throw attempt, Michigan coach Kevin Borseth called a timeout to ice Jackson. It may have worked because she missed her second free throw as well. The Buckeyes quickly fouled and the Michigan's Jenny Ryan made both free throws, leaving the Buckeyes with just three seconds to work with.
The play was designed to get Brittany Johnson a look at a three-pointer, and it worked, but her shot was long as the buzzer sounded.
“I give them a lot of credit,” said Foster of the Wolverines. “They played very well. They executed. We didn't.”
Up next for the Buckeyes is a trip to Happy Valley to face the Nittany Lions on Sunday at 2:00 pm on the Big Ten Network.
Game Play by Play
Season Stats Year to Date
• Ohio State is 137-12 at home overall under Jim Foster and 110-8 since the start of 2004-05.
•The loss Thursday night was the first for the Buckeyes against Michigan in Columbus since Jan. 21, 2001. Ohio State had won the last eight meetings in Columbus.
• Ohio State tied a season-high with 46 points and shot better than 50 percent (57.7 percent) in the first half.
• The Buckeyes had a season-best 11 3-pointers. Their previous season high was 9 vs. Iowa.
• Jantel Lavender became the Big Ten’s all-time leading rebounder after grabbing 14 boards. Lavender now has 1,279 career rebounds, passing Indiana’s Denise Jackson’s previous record of 1,273 set back in 1984.
• Lavender is the second-leading active scorer in the nation (2,495) behind UConn’s Maya Moore (2,628).
• Lavender has scored 10+ points in all 122 career games, the longest active streak in Division I.
• Samantha Prahalis was a season-best 9-for-13 (.692) from the field. She was 7-of-7 in the first half, hitting all five of her three-point attempts.
• Brittany Johnson has hit 20 3-point field goals in her last five games, 16 in her last three.
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