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Last updated: 02/17/2011 11:48 PM

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Women's Basketball
Prahalis Sets Career Mark as Buckeyes Roll
By Tony Gerdeman

Ohio State (16-9, 7-6) point guard Samantha Prahalis scored 21 points and handed out 11 assists in leading her team to an 89-67 win over #23 Penn State (21-7, 10-4). During the game, Prahalis set a new school record for career assists at 647, besting Jamie Lewis' old mark of 643.

Not to be outdone, her backcourt mate Tayler Hill scored a career-high 19 points for the second consecutive outing. And center Jantel Lavender scored a game-high 23 points while pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds. The Buckeyes' three-headed monster went 22-39 from the field and scored 63 points.

The Nittany Lions came into Columbus looking for a rare season sweep of the Buckeyes, but they had a misstep very early on as point guard Alex Bentley picked up her second foul just 3:42 into the game. When Bentley went to the bench the Buckeyes were leading just 6-2.

Ohio State quickly took control of the game offensively and defensively. Lavender scored nine points in about six minutes, giving the Buckeyes a 21-11 lead halfway through the first half. At that point Lady Lions coach Coquese Washington had no choice but to bring Bentley back in and hope that she wouldn't pick up her third personal.

The Buckeyes were pushing the ball at every opportunity, but somehow they weren't forcing things. The offense clicked very well, as evidenced by Samantha Prahalis' eight first-half assists. And the defense was attacking from the opening tip. Ohio State scored 14 first-half points off of turnovers, which set the tone for the entire game.

“That was the difference in the game," said Washington regarding the amount of turnovers. "I think there were a lot of unforced turnovers. We had some bad decisions and looseness with the ball. That was uncalled for, many of them were live. We needed to take care of the ball and we didn’t.”

The Buckeyes took a 45-31 lead into halftime, which was quickly cut to 49-37 just two minutes into the second half. Then, almost as quickly, Ohio State went on an 11-0 run to put the game essentially out of reach. A basket by Lavender and two free throws by Hill sandwiched seven straight points from Prahalis during the 11-0 stretch.

The Lady Lions would get within ten points a few times in the second half, but could never get the game into single digits. The Buckeyes led 67-57 with 8:43 to play after a layup by Penn State's Julia Trogele, but that was as close as they would be for the rest of the game. From that point on, Ohio State would close the game on a 22-10 run to easily outdistance the nation's 23rd-ranked team.

“We’re getting better," said Buckeye coach Jim Foster. "We have a better understanding of who we are and who we need to be to be a very good basketball team. I think our intensity and focus on defense is better, our attention to detail is better, our freshmen are now playing in a way that it would be difficult to tell they are freshmen.”

The 89 points scored by the Buckeyes was their third-highest total of the season, but their defensive effort was just as stellar. Alex Bentley came into this game averaging 14.8 points per game, but she was held to just four points in 22 minutes, turning the ball over five times in the process.

Star freshman Maggie Lucas came into the game scoring 16.7 points per game, but was held to just eight points by various defenders. Penn State entered the contest leading the conference in scoring, averaging 79.3 points per game. They were held twelve points under their average.

The Buckeyes shot 24-28 from the free throw line and 5-12 from behind the three-point line.

Up next for the Buckeyes is a trip to West Lafayette for a double-header as the men's team plays at 1:00 pm and the women play at 5:00 pm. Purdue is one-half game ahead of the Buckeyes in the Big Ten standings.

Postgame Notes

• Ohio State dealt Penn State its worst loss of the season with its 89-67 victory. The Buckeye defense also limited Lady Lion leading scorer Maggie Lucas to just eight points on the night and held Alex Bentley to just two points and three shot attempts. Lucas was averaging 16.7 ppg.

• Ohio State is 4-2 against ranked teams this season, defeating No. 9 Michigan State, No. 11 Oklahoma, No. 18 Iowa and No. 23 Penn State, while falling to No. 1 UConn and No. 21 Iowa on the road.

• For just the second time this season, an Ohio State opponent shot 50 percent or better. UConn was exactly .500 from the field in Ohio State’s 81-50 loss.

• Ohio State forced a season-high 27 turnovers vs. Penn State. During the Buckeyes’ past three games they have forced their opponents to turn the ball over a total of 65 times (22 vs. Purdue, 16 at Minnesota).

• Ohio State has scored 70 or more points 15 times, at least 80 10 times and has had two 90-point games in a 95-84 win over No. 11 Oklahoma and a 90-67 win over Purdue Feb. 10.

• Ohio State is 139-13 at home overall under Jim Foster and 112-9 since the start of 2004-05.

• After surpassing Katie Smith as Ohio State’s all-time leading scorer at Minnesota Feb. 13, Jantel Lavender added to her total with 23 points vs. the Lady Lions, bringing her career total to 2,610 points.

• Lavender is the second-leading active scorer in the NCAA (2,610) behind UConn’s Maya Moore (2,796).

• Lavender also owns the NCAA record with 10 or more points in 127 consecutive games -- every game of her career.

• Scoring 23 points and grabbing 11 boards, Lavender recorded her 14th double-double of the season.

• With 11 assists on the night, Samantha Prahalis broke Jamie Lewis’ school record of 643 career assists. Prahalis now has 647 assists for her career.

• Prahalis also recorded her fifth double-double of the season and second since recording a triple-double Feb. 6 vs. Northwestern. Against Penn State, Prahalis scored 21 points and dished out 11 assists.

• Tayler Hill tied her career high with 19 points. Hill was 6-for-9 from the field in 35 minutes of action.

• Hill has made 32 of her last 34 free throws and 14 straight.

• Ohio State is 14-2 this season when scoring 70+ points and 2-7 when scoring fewer. They went 25-0 last season when scoring 70 or more and 6-5 when scoring fewer.

• Ohio State has made more free throws (410) than opponents have attempted (393) this season. Ohio State is 14-3 this year and 83-9 since the start of the 2007-08 season when they make more than its opponents at the line.

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