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Last updated: 03/19/2011 8:38 PM

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Women's Basketball
Lavender Leads Buckeyes Past Knights, and Into Second Round of NCAA Tournament
By Tony Gerdeman

All-American and Wooden Award finalist Jantel Lavender scored 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in leading #4-seed Ohio State to a 80-69 victory over #13-seed Central Florida in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The Buckeyes shot 52.5% from the field while holding UCF to just 39.7% shooting. OSU scored 28 points off of the Knights' 18 turnovers.

UCF, who plays an aggressive up-tempo style, started the game well enough, leading 10-9 at the first media timeout. The Buckeyes then increased their aggression, particularly on defense, and sparked a 12-2 run capped by a three-pointer from Brittany Johnson, who finished the game 3-5 from long range and scored 14 points.

Boosted by five quick points from Knights forward Ashia Kelly, UCF was able to cut the lead down to 25-21 with 8:53 left in the first half. The Buckeyes would answer with a run of their own, peeling off a 7-0 spree over the next three minutes, with five of those points coming from point guard Samantha Prahalis, who finished with 19 points and 10 assists on the afternoon.

Another three-pointer from Brittany Johnson late in the half would give the Buckeyes their largest lead of the first 20 minutes at 41-28 before the halftime score would finally settle at 43-33.

The Knights opened the second half by almost immediately cutting the Ohio State lead in half. A Chelsie Wiley jumper and another Ashia Kelly three-pointer made it 45-40.

Prahalis and Lavender would then go on a tear, scoring the Buckeyes' next 17 points over seven-minute span, keeping UCF at arm's length throughout.

“She's a really good point guard,” said UCF forward Ashia Kelly, referring to Prahalis. “She attacked. She really can play. We had to just stay in front of her. I give a lot of props.”

“We just basically tried to keep her in front and tried to limit her from driving right,” forward D'Nay Daniels said of their failed defensive plan against Prahalis.

Ohio State would build on their lead until it reached 73-55 on an Alison Jackson layup with 4:47 to play. Jackson came off the bench to score eight points on 4-5 shooting in just 13 minutes of action.

UCF would go on a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to eight points with just 2:22 remaining, but it was too little too late as they just couldn't get any closer.

“We just hung with our game plan,” said Daniels.

“They stuck to our strength and weaknesses. They beat us with their weaknesses. We respect them. I'd rather go out with their weaknesses than giving them what they wanted.”

The Buckeyes harassed the Knights throughout, coming away with eight steals in the process.

“Ohio State did a great job,” said UCF coach Joi Williams.

When you play a team of this caliber, you have very small room for error. So I thought our turnovers got us tonight. I thought we did a pretty good job on the boards, but turned the ball over a few too many times.”

Both Prahalis and Lavender played all 40 minutes for the Buckeyes, but coach Jim Foster isn't worried about fatigue.

“I think the easiest type of games to play in terms of conditioning are the NCAA tournament games because you have timeouts every four minutes. They're forever. Those timeouts are forever. There's no such thing as being tired. It's the same thing as being in the Big Ten tournament. Announcers who are tired because they stayed out too late the night before keep telling you how tired the players are. And the players aren't tired. They get to sit down and rest. So they love to play. They like to be on the floor.”

For Lavender, it was her 134th double-figure scoring game, which ties the NCAA record with Oklahoma's Courtney Paris.

Up next for Ohio State is a Monday evening game (7:00 pm) against #5-seed Georgia Tech, who is 24-10 on the season and coming off of a victory over #12-seed Bowling Green. The game will be played at St. John Arena on the Ohio State University campus.

Box Score and Play by Play
Season Stats Year to Date

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