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Last updated: 03/22/2011 1:28 AM

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Women's Basketball
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 Buckeyes' turnovers.

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 pressure.

“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 capitalize.

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

Postgame Notes

• 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 play).

• 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 tournament.

• Jantel Lavender recorded her 76th career double-double and her 19th of the season with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

• 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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