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Last updated: 03/06/2011 10:58 AM

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Women's Basketball
Lavender Sets Tourney Record With 37 Points as Buckeyes Advance to Championship Game
By Tony Gerdeman

Jantel Lavender scored 37 points on 15-20 shooting, leading her No. 5 seed Buckeyes (21-9) to a 72-57 win over No. 1 seed Michigan State (26-5). The win advances Ohio State to the Championship Game of the Big Ten Tournament against No. 2 seed Penn State.

Lavender scored 21 points in the first half, making nine of her ten field goal attempts. Samantha Prahalis was the only other Buckeye in double figures with 11 points.

The Spartans came out of the gate strong, backed by Big Ten Player of the Year (as chosen by the coaches) Kalisha Keane who scored eight quick points to aid in Michigan State's 10-2 lead early on.

The Buckeyes fought their way back via the paint. Buckeye centers Ashley Adams and Lavender alternated making four baskets until Ohio State grabbed an 18-17 lead. Lavender then went on a run of her own, scoring the Buckeyes next three baskets. Despite her heroics t wasn't enough to keep the lead. It traded hands seven times in the first half.

A three-pointer from Prahalis with 4:47 remaining in the first half gave the Buckeyes a four-point lead, their largest of the game. A couple of minutes later, Brittany Johnson's only three of the night gave Ohio State a 37-29 lead. That lead would eventually grow to ten at 43-33 at the half.

Michigan State started the second half just like they did the first. Ohio State's ten-point lead was down to three after just 2:30 was played. The Spartans opened on an 8-1 run, with Lykendra Johnson scoring five of those points.

Johnson then got the lead down to one point after a layup with 14:28 remaining, then tied it with a jumper a few minutes later. Ohio State quickly grabbed the lead back, but twice more the Spartans tied the game back up.

The tide finally turned in a big way for Ohio State as the Spartans had a series of unfortunate events that saw Michigan State blow a layup then turn the ball over on three straight possessions, all of which were capitalized on by the Buckeyes for a seven-point swing.

"Obviously we had three straight turnovers that you just can't turn them over for touchdowns,” said Spartan coach Suzy Merchant.

“Not in these big games, not in the post season, not in survive-and-advance mode. You have to make people work.”

Ohio State turned a nine-point lead into 13-point lead with 5:14 remaining thanks to a field goal and two free throws from Lavender. From that point on, the Spartans never got the deficit back below eleven points.

The Buckeyes held Michigan State to just 31.9% (22-69) shooting for the game, and forced 18 turnovers. The Spartans did have an amazing 25 offensive rebounds, compared to just 17 defensive rebounds, but as Buckeye coach Jim Foster noted, sometimes stats can be deceiving.

“The quality of the second shot, if the other team is going to out-rebound you and get put-backs, that can certainly have a negative impact on your defensive possession,” he said.

“They miss the first shot, made the second. Then there are other teams that rebound sort of in a volley. They may get three of four, but if it's not being finished, then that's an 0-fer. And unless they're putting it back in the basket, that is not going to be to your disadvantage. So the numbers, sometimes there's a tendency for them to look dramatic. That's a pretty dramatic number, 25. But 32 percent is not a dramatic number.”

Lavender's 37 points are not only a career-high, but also a Big Ten Tournament single-game scoring record. What's even more impressive is that most of those points came against Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Lykendra Johnson.

“She's a very solid player,” Johnson said, referring to Lavender. “I was trying to do anything and everything I can just to stop her.”

“I thought Jantel Lavender was just amazing and just caught everything, finished everything,” said Merchant.

“I felt like it was the best I've seen her play all year.”

“I've been blessed to play with an All-American player, one of the best players in the world in women's college basketball,” OSU sophomore guard Tayler Hill said.

“So having her presence down there takes so much off everybody else.”

The Buckeyes will face No. 2 seed Penn State tomorrow at 3:30 PM for the Big Ten tournament championship. OSU won the tournament championship in each of the last two seasons. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

Box Score
Game Play by Play
Season Stats Year to Date

Postgame Notes

- Ohio State is in the final for the seventh time in school history and the third-straight season.

- Senior Jantel Lavender set a Big Ten Tournament single-game scoring record with 37 points. Lavender also has the No. 2 spot on the list after putting up 35 points vs. Iowa last year. The 37 points ties her career high and continues her NCAA-record string of 132 straight games scoring in double digits.

- Lavender tied the single-game tournament record with 15 field goals made.

- Lavender became the Big Ten Tournament’s all-time leading scorer with 211 points in nine career games.

- Lavender also became the Big Ten Tournament’s all-time leading rebounder. She has pulled down 101 rebounds her nine tournament games.

- Lavender had 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting in less than 15 minutes of play in the first half and finished the first period with 21 points, shooting 90 percent (9-10). She ended the game at 75 percent (15-20) from the field.

- Lavender was a perfect 7-for-7 at the free throw line, the seventh time this year she has not missed a free throw shot in a game.

- Junior Samantha Prahalis moved to second on tournament’s career assists lists with three tonight and 49 total in eight tournament games.

- Ohio State’s 43 first-half points is the most points scored by a team in the first period this tournament.

- Ohio State is now 7-2 vs. ranked teams this season.

- With the game tied at 49-49 with 10:57 remaining, the Buckeyes kicked off a 17-4 run to pull away for good.

- Ohio State is 3-0 vs. Michigan State in tournament semifinal games.

- Over their current eight-game win streak, the Buckeyes are averaging 76.8 points per game.

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