Lavender, Prahalis March Through Georgia Tech on Way to Sweet Sixteen
By Tony Gerdeman
Jantel Lavender scored 21 points and
pulled down 11 rebounds, and Samantha Prahalis added 16 points and
eight assists, as the #4 seed Buckeyes (24-9) defeated #5 seed
Georgia Tech 67-60 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA
tournament for the second time in three years.
Lavender, who scored 17 of her 21
points in the second half, set a new NCAA record for number of games
scoring in double figures at 135.
The Buckeyes had to deal with 40
minutes of defensive pressure from the Yellow Jackets, and it did
lead to 21 turnovers, but Tech could only convert those turnovers
into 16 points—which is the same number of points the Buckeyes got
from the 13 turnovers the Yellow Jackets committed.
Georgia Tech, known for their fullcourt
pressure, tried to apply that pressure to Prahalis and the Buckeyes,
but Ohio State repeatedly broke it, eventually forcing the Jackets to
scrap it in the second half.
In fact, it was tenacious and
physical halfcourt defense that forced the vast majority of the
The first half of the game resembled a
mixture of basketball, Brazilian jujitsu, and Twister. The
physicality eventually got out of hand, and led to double technical
fouls being called on Lavender and Georgia Tech's Chelsea Regins
after they traded head-high elbows in the paint.
At the point of the double-foul, the
Buckeyes lead 23-18 with 5:24 to play in the half. They quickly made
it 25-18 on Lavender's second field goal of the half. Georgia Tech
then went on a 12-4 run to close out the half, taking their first
lead of the game at 30-29 as the clock struck zeroes.
They then opened the second half with a
three-pointer from Metra Walthour, but that was quickly answered by a
three from Brittany Johnson. From that point on, the game was Jantel
Lavender's. She scored the next eight points for the Buckeyes,
giving them a 40-35 lead at the 14:50 mark of the second half.
“Jantel, to me, is the best post
player in the country,” said Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph.
“She's also one of the top three players in the country overall.”
“I thought she was more aggressive in
the second half. She was passive in the first half. The second
half, they moved her inside which I thought was a good move, because
we couldn't guard her in there. Once she got in the block and
started posting up on the block, we couldn't contain her.”
Spurred by a renewed emphasis on
getting the ball down low to Lavender, and a partisan St. John Arena
crowd, Ohio State eventually stretched their lead to 13 points with
under seven minutes to play.
In that span, Georgia Tech also went
away from their customary fullcourt press because it simply wasn't
effective against Prahalis.
“We were getting layups,” Prahalis
said when asked why Tech pulled off the fullcourt pressure. “I
would have pulled it off too.”
“Stealth-like,” is how Buckeye
coach Jim Foster described his point guard against Georgia Tech's
“She's going to get there. You might
not know how she's going to get there, but you give the kid a head of
steam, she's just too good a player. She has too much game and she's
going to find things.”
With the defense not creating as
many points as they needed from them, the Yellow Jackets simply could
never get back into the game and pose a serious threat. It didn't
help that throughout the course of the entire game they never found
their shooting stroke either. They managed to cut the lead to seven points
with 1:20 to play, but they had nothing left with which to
Georgia Tech finished 28-72 (38.9%)
from the field, while the Buckeyes managed a robust 25-42 (59.5%).
The Yellow Jackets took 30 more shots, but scored only five more
points from the field than the Buckeyes. They were 2-17 from behind
the three-point line as well.
Despite the hectic pace of the game,
the Buckeyes played only six players on the night and all five
starters scored at least nine points.
One major point of contention for
MaChelle Joseph was the lack of fouls called against the Buckeyes.
The Yellow Jackets shot just two free throws to Ohio State's 18.
“Since I've been at Georgia Tech,
we've never played a game and got two free throws. We're too
aggressive attacking the rim not to get to the free throw line more.
But that's not the difference in the game. The difference in the
game is we've got to make layups. You've got to make shots, especially when you're on somebody's home court. And this was an
away game for us. This wasn't a neutral shoot. It wasn't a normal
NCAA tournament game. It was a home game for Ohio State. There's no
way around that.”
Up next for the Buckeyes is a Saturday
afternoon game against #1 seed Tennessee in Dayton, Ohio.
Box Score and Game Play by Play
Season Stats Year to Date
• Ohio State advances to its second
Sweet 16 in three years, its third under head coach Jim Foster and
its eighth overall. The Buckeyes will face No. 1 seed Tennessee
Saturday in Dayton.
• Jim Foster is now 34-24 all-time in
the NCAA tournament in his career.
• Ohio State is now 14-2 in its last
16 postseason games (9-0 at the Big Ten tournament and 5-2 in NCAA
• Ohio State extended its season-long
win streak to 11 games with the victory.
• Ohio State shot a season-high 59.5
percent from the field, including 63.6 in the second half.
• Ohio State is now 8-2 against
ranked teams this season and 13-3 against teams that made the NCAA
• Jantel Lavender recorded her 76th
career double-double and her 19th of the season with 21 points and 11
• Lavender set an NCAA record with
the 135th double-figure scoring game of her career, surpassing
Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris (134 in 137 games).
• With her eighth assist, Samantha
Prahalis recorded her 700th career assist.
• Ohio State is now 15-2 this season
when Prahalis records 7 or more assists.
• The Buckeyes are now 19-3 this year
and 88-9 since the start of the 2007-08 season when they make more
than their opponents at the line.
• Ohio State has allowed just two
teams to shoot 50 percent this season.
• Lavender has now started all 135
games of her career – a school record.
• Monday was first meeting between
Ohio State and Georgia Tech.
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