Lavender and Buckeyes Sprint Past Oklahoma
It was a fast-paced, up and down affair as #11 Oklahoma (7-1) and #6 Ohio State (7-0) met at Value City Arena, with the Buckeyes ultimately coming out on top with the 95-84 win, led by 32 points from All-American center Jantel Lavender.
Meeting in the Big Ten/Big XII Challenge, both teams came in wanting to push the ball to put pressure on the other's defense, and that's exactly what happened.
Oklahoma has been led by All-American guard Danielle Robinson this season, and while she did her part with 19 points on the night, it was freshman Aaryn Ellenberg that was the talk of the game. She scored 20 points in the first half, and barely slowed down with 14 more in the second half.
“She's gonna have games like that,” said Sooner coach Sherri Coales.
“I'll tell you what I love about her—and it's a big deal—it doesn't matter how bright the lights are or how big the stage is, she's gonna play. She has absolutely no fear. I have never seen a freshman as unflappable as this kid is.”
But the Buckeyes matched, and actually exceeded, Ellenberg shot for shot on the night. Despite a close game throughout, Ohio State controlled the entire game. The Sooners' lone lead on the night was at 2-0 with 19:25 remaining in the first half.
The Buckeyes got out to a quick lead at 27-15 with 11:57 to play in the first half, but the Sooners immediately answered with an 11-0 run over the next three minutes. Despite the rally, the Buckeyes did not give up control. That was the story of the game, and Coach Coales didn't hide from that fact when asked about how the game ultimately slipped away from her team.
“I think in order for us to let it slip away, we would have had to have been in control. We were never in control. We fought valiantly in the beginning, but in the end we couldn’t get quite over the hump.”
The Buckeyes took a 45-40 lead at the half and could never really build on it until late in the contest. As they have done all season long, Ohio State found a stretch of game where they constricted their opponent and choked the life out of them. Tonight, it was a two-minute stretch where the Buckeyes took a 76-72 lead and turned it into an 84-72 lead with 3:39 remaining. The game was effectively over from that point forward.
The Sooners tried to extend the game by fouling, but the Buckeyes never again let the game dip below double figures.
“Ohio State is really a conundrum to defend,” remarked Coales.
If you double down on Lavender, she’s a great passer and can dish it out. If you don’t double down and you have a good post defender, she can still shoot.”
Buckeye coach Jim Foster explained the difference over the last few minutes of the game.
“At the end of the game we did the things we needed to do. We took care of the ball and got timely rebounds. At the other end we were much better in the last seven minutes defensively. We made their shots difficult. I think it was a quality win for us.”
Ohio State was very aggressive on offense, and it showed when three Sooners fouled out in the second half, including the Ellenberg. She received a standing ovation for her performance on the night, though Coales wasn't entirely sure of the honesty behind it.
“Yeah, they were glad she wasn't playing anymore,” she laughed.
“I don't think it was for the right reasons. Maybe. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt. It is the holiday season.”
Foster was also impressed with what he saw, from both sides.
“Give her credit, she was unconscious in the first half. But give us credit because we found her in the end and we got stops and made her shots more difficult. She stepped up and took advantage of our emphasis relative to Robinson.”
Two Buckeyes finished with double-doubles on the night as forward Sarah Schulze scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and point guard Samantha Prahalis scored 15 points and dished out a career-high 15 assists.
Senior guard Brittany Johnson also pitched in 18 points and hit 4-6 from three-point range. All five starters were in double figures for the Buckeyes.
Up next for Ohio State is a visit to Syracuse this Saturday at 1:00 p.m..
· Ohio State improved to 3-0 all-time vs. Oklahoma and moved to 16-15 overall against teams currently in the Big 12.
· Ohio State is 132-10 at home overall under Jim Foster and 105-6 since the start of 2004-05.
· Foster coached his 1,000th career game Sunday vs. the Sooners and now owns a career record of 723-277.
· The Buckeyes recorded a season-high 95 points vs. Oklahoma. Ohio State is averaging 79.1 points per game this season and already has scored at least 80 points three other times this season. The Buckeyes also set a season high with 34 field goals.
· Ohio State recorded a season high in steals and 3-pointers with 11 and eight, respectively.
· Ohio State shot 50 percent (50.7) from the field for the game for the fourth time this season.
· Jantel Lavender has scored 10+ points in all 108 career games, the longest active streak in Division I. Lavender scored 32 points and had four rebounds in 40 minutes of action.
· With her 32 points, Lavender recorded her 10th career 30-point game and her second of the season. She scored 37 points at Temple Nov. 12.
· Samantha Prahalis became just the third Ohio State player to score at least 1,000 points and 500 assists after breaking the 1,000 point barrier at the 15:53 mark in the first half. Prahalis finished the evening with 15 points and 15 assists.
· Prahalis set a career high with 15 assists Sunday and recorded her 11th career double-double (15 points, 15 assists) of the season. The 15 assists is second on Ohio State’s all-time list and two shy of the record of 17 held by Jamie Lewis.
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