COLUMBUS, Ohio – With Iowa focused on stopping Jantel Lavender and Samantha Prahalis, No. 8 Ohio State used its depth to win the game.
Brittany Johnson scored 13 of her 18 points in the second half to rally the Buckeyes to an 86-82 victory over Iowa on Thursday night.
“They started double downing on Jantel because on the first half they couldn’t stop her,” Johnson said. ”They were focusing more on her so she kicked it out. I hit my shots.”
Prahalis finished with 22 points – 11 in each half – and Lavender added 18 to help Ohio State (22-3, 10-2 Big Ten) improve to 17-0 at home.
“I’ve always felt that they’re the best two-person game in the league and maybe the whole country,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.
Jaime Printy scored 22 points, Kachine Alexander had 16 of her 20 in the second half, and Kamille Wahlin added 18 for Iowa (11-11, 4-7).
The Hawkeyes were more proficient on the perimeter, making 11 of 21 3-pointers while Ohio State was 8 for 17. However, the Buckeyes were 28 for 34 on free throws, and Iowa was just 9 of 13.
“You can’t let the other team shoot that many free throws,” Bluder said.
After trailing by four, Ohio State tied the score at 69 with 6:15 left thanks to two 3s by Johnson around a layup by Wahlin.
“We wanted to set a tempo,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. “We wanted a pace because we thought we could go deeper in the bench. The pace is what I thought got them in foul trouble. We had fresher bodies that we could keep the tempo.”
Lavender’s layup gave the Buckeyes the lead for good at 74-72 and Prahalis followed with 3.
Iowa, which led 44-43 at halftime, was down 81-78 with the ball in the final minute but Shavelle Little stole the ball from Alexander. Prahalis was fouled with 26 seconds left and made both shots to push Ohio State’s lead to 83-78.
Little stole the ball from Wahlin with 21 seconds left, was fouled and converted one free throw.
Little, the conference defensive player of the year the past two seasons, had four steals in 10 minutes.
“That was my fault,” Bluder said. “I should not have had Kamille bring the ball up against her. We know what a great defensive player (Little) is.”
Jim Foster, Ohio State head coach
On the second half
“We played harder. We got some key stops and there was a point in the second half where we could have separated ourselves from letting them back in the game. That is the next step. They have very good guard play.”
On the heavy rotation of players in the first half
“We wanted tempo. We wanted to force the action and we wanted the game to be fast. We did not want it to be a half court game. It’s refreshing to be able to go up and down the court in a Big Ten game. I am sure it was a much more fun game to watch.”
Jantel Lavender, junior center
On Jaime Printy
“She makes the deep shots. You really have to jam her so she doesn’t get the shot she wants.”
On her ankle
“It’s cold tub time. We are in the middle of the season and there is a lot of banging going on out there. I need to ice it down more.”
Samantha Prahalis, sophomore guard
On the game
“We fought to the end and didn’t fold. We faced adversity and came through in the end.”
On her defensive prowess
“The coaches told me I can make a play defensively to spark us. I took that personally and used it as motivation.”
Brittany Johnson, junior guard
On her three-point shooting in the second half
“They started to double down on Jantel in the second half. They couldn’t stop her in the first half and were more focused on her. She kicked it out and I made my shots. Overall, we did a good job.”
On the game
“It was tough. It went down to the wire. We played 40 minutes and got stops at the end. Those stops are what won us the game.”
On Iowa making 11 three-point baskets, an opponent record in Value City Arena
“We knew already they were a good three-point shooting team. We have to extend our defense more (in the future). We’ll watch film and tweak some things.”
Lisa Bluder, Iowa head coach
On the game
“I am proud of my team’s efforts. Congratulations to Ohio State for their effort. Brittany Johnson’s back-to-back threes really hurt us. We turned the ball over too many times in the second half. On the free throw line, they had 34, we had 13. We put them at the line too many times.”
On Brittany Johnson
“We were in zone defense and she was on the weak side and they did a great job of getting her the ball. We should have been more aware of her. We respect her as a three-point shooter.”
On guards Jaime Printy and Kamille Wahlin
“Jaime had a great game. Kamille had a great game. To walk out of here with a loss is not good. You cannot let a team have that many free throws.”