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Last updated: 03/06/2011 11:39 PM

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Women's Basketball
Lavender and Prahalis Dominant in Securing Third Straight Big Ten Tournament Title
By Tony Gerdeman

Led by a three-headed attack that saw Jantel Lavender, Samantha Prahalis and Tayler Hill combine for 63 points, #5 seed Ohio State (22-9) bested #2 seed Penn State 84-70, and won their third consecutive Big Ten Tournament Championship.

Lavender, named the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player, finished the game with 23 points and 15 rebounds, shooting 10-18 from the field. She also handed out six assists. For the tournament, she averaged 23.7 points per game and 12.7 rebounds per game.

Joining her on the All-Tournament Team were Prahalis and Hill, as well as Penn State players Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas. Prahalis scored 23 points in the win and dished out nine assists. Both were tournament highs for her. Hill scored 17 points, nearly besting her previous two-game total of 21 points.

Penn State got out of the gate early with a couple of three-pointers from Bentley and Zhaque Gray and led 12-8 at the first media timeout. A Prahalis layup with 14:41 would give the Buckeyes their first lead of the game at 14-12, and they would never give it back.

Prahalis and Lavender went on a 9-0 run before Penn State could get on the board, and it was just an indicator of what was to come. Along with Hill, the talented Buckeye triumvirate would score 21 of Ohio State's first 27 points.

“I had a lane,” Prahalis said, explaining her first half aggression on offense. “Every night's different for me. Some nights, people are hot and I've got to find them. In the first half I was having my way and having open lanes.”

It wasn't enough to pull away from the Nittany Lions, however. The Buckeyes went to the half with a 44-39 lead following a fast-paced first half. Penn State shot 5-10 from behind the three-point line, which is why they were able to stay in the game with Ohio State.

“Sometimes great offense trumps great defense,” said Penn State coach Coquese Washington.

“When you have two high-powered offensive teams and you've got four or five players on the floor for each team that can make shots and make plays, something's got to give.”

The second half, however, is where Penn State's championship dreams went to die.

After a free throw by Penn State's Julia Trogele, a layup by Ashley Adams and a three-pointer by Tayler Hill quickly made it a nine-point game for the Buckeyes. They lead 49-40 just over a minute into the second half.

Lavender scored ten of Ohio State's next twelve points, further extending the Buckeye lead to 61-48. A 6-2 run by the Lions got the lead under double-figures, but that wouldn't even last for a minute because another Ashley Adams layup and a three-pointer from Sarah Schulze built the lead back up to 14 points almost immediately. Try as they might, Penn State would never get the deficit back to single digits.

The lead actually ballooned to 18 points twice before finally settling at 84-70 at the final buzzer.

“They've got three or four McDonald's All-Americans on their team,” Washington said.

“They're a tough team to prepare for. They've got talented players that can make plays. So it's really quite that simple. They've got a lot of good players, and when they're playing well, and they're making shots, they're tough to defend.”

Ohio State dominated the paint, as is generally the case, scoring 36 of their 84 points in the lane. They shot 29-51 from inside the three-point line. It wasn't just an offensive showcase, however. The Buckeye defense forced Penn State to just 35.1% (26-74) shooting from the field. After allowing 39 points in the first half, Ohio State held the Lady Lions to just 31 in the second half. and just 1-9 from behind the three-point line.

The 84 points scored by the Buckeyes set a Big Ten Tournament championship game record.

The win makes Ohio State just the second team in Big Ten history to win three consecutive Big Ten Tournaments. The win also gave Jim Foster his fourth Big Ten Tournament championship, which makes him the first coach in the conference to accomplish the feat.

After a season that once saw the Buckeyes sulking with a 4-6 conference record, Ohio State has now won nine games in a row, including all three in the tournament by double-digits.

“We're very confident,” Prahalis said about her team.

“We've been moving the ball good, but we don't forget where we were a month ago. All we have is each other, and I think we realize that now and we play for each other.”

“I just think we really know who we are now, and I think we're playing like that,” Lavender explained.

“We can have situations come up and get through them and still be able to play a good game. And it doesn't matter what's thrown at us, because we've dealt with adversity at the beginning of the season, and I think that made us a lot tougher.”

“We are who we are,” Foster said, agreeing with his All-American center. “and we are a byproduct of our experiences and we had a lot of them and we grew up a lot.”

“This was the best team of the last three (years), and I think how we won this is a reflection of that.”

Box Score
Game Play by Play
Season Stats Year to Date

Postgame Notes

- Ohio State set a Big Ten Tournament championship game record with 84 points scored.

- Jim Foster improves to 4-1 in Big Ten Tournament title games. He is the first coach in conference history to win four tournament titles.

- It is the Buckeyes’ 14the win in the last 16 meetings with Lady Lions.

- This is the second time in tournament history the No. 5 seed has defeated the No. 2 seed in the championship game (Indiana, 2002) and the third championship win for the No. 5 seed in tournament history.

- Ohio State is the second team in Big Ten history to win three-straight tournaments (Purdue: 1998-2000)

- Senior Jantel Lavender recorded her 133rd career double-digit scoring game with 23 points. She is now one game shy of tying the NCAA record for most double figure scoring games in a career. The record of 134 is currently held by Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris (2006-09).

- Lavender averaged 24.0 ppg in three games vs. the Lady Lions this year.

- It is the fifth time this year that both Lavender and junior Samantha Prahalis (23 points) have scored 20 or more points in the same game, and the second time vs. Penn State this season.

- Prahalis set a Big Ten Tournament championship game record with nine assists today.

- The Buckeyes’ eight blocked shots set a new championship game record. Their 19 assists ties the championship game record.

- Freshman Ashley Adams set the championship game record with five blocked shots.

-Lavender finished with 38 rebounds in the tournament, which is tied for second in a single tournament. She already owns the top spot with 41 in 2009.

- Lavender is the first three-time Most Outstanding Player award winner in tournament history.

- The Buckeyes tallied 104 first-half points in their three tournament games, including a tournament-high 44 today. Half of OSU’s first-half points came in the paint (22).

- Ohio State put the game away with a 19-9 run to open second half.

- The Buckeyes carry a nine-game win streak into the postseason and will be making their ninth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

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