COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State finally looked the team we all know and love Thursday night.
Behind swarming defensive pressure and a potent offensive attack, the Buckeyes raced their way to a 90-67 win over visiting Purdue in front of 4,611 fans downtown at Nationwide Arena.
Senior Jantel Lavender led five Buckeyes in double-figures with 21 points, Tayler Hill and Brittany Johnson each scored 17 and Samantha Prahalis added a double-double with 12 points and 12 assists as Ohio State snapped a three-game losing streak and improved its record to 14-9 and 5-6 in conference play. The loss dips Purdue to 16-9 and 6-6.
The Buckeyes forced a season-high 22 turnovers and hit 22-of-28 from the line while committing just nine turnovers.
Already up 48-32 with 18:16 remaining, the Buckeyes wasted no time putting the game away with a 15-4 run, capped off by a Hill three-pointer to put Ohio State up by 27 with 13:34 to go. A Johnson three-pointer 5 minutes later gave Ohio State its biggest lead at 77-47.
Freshman Ashley Adams had another solid game with 10 points, six boards and three blocks. Classmate Martina Ellerbe chipped in off the bench with eight points while Lavender just missed her 14th double-double of the season with nine boards.
Ohio State raced out to a 44-27 lead in the first half behind a balanced scoring attack. Lavender led all scorers with 12 while Hill, Prahalis and Johnson each scored eight and Ashley Adams six. Johnson capped off the opening 20 minutes with a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Buckeyes shot 45.5 percent from the field in the first half and made 12-of-15 at the line while Purdue made zero trips to the stripe. Defensively, Ohio State turned up the pressure, forcing 13 first-half turnovers and turning those into 14 points. Purdue’s Courtney Moses led the Boilers with 10 points at the half.
Ohio State hits the road this weekend when they travel to Minneapolis to take on the Gophers Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.
Jim Foster, Ohio State head coach
On Ohio State’s defense
“I thought our defensive intensity was very good. Collectively we have people doing some good things and we were very active. I thought Taylor was extremely active and Sammy did a pretty good job of staying with the person she was guarding. I thought our defense started to make the difference, then our role reversal started to kick in.”
“They are a very very aggressive basketball team. You can’t play on your heals because of their aggressiveness. You have to keep the ball moving and keep them moving and pick your spots to attack.”
On Ohio State’s offense
“We had a lot of plays off the dribble and Jantel was very strong off the ball and took her time. Because of that they had to commit some fouls. I thought Taylor and Sammy did a good job getting to the basket and putting the ball on the floor.”
On the gameplan for Minnesota
“I think we have to go in with the same mindset on the road. We have to go in and put a lot of pressure on the team defensively, so when we transition into the team that transitions the ball, it will open so much for us. It stretches them so far because there is so many people on our team they have to guard.”
On playing at Nationwide Arena
“I like it down here. I think this will be a great place for us to play some games. Downtown has potential for another audience. I think we could really grow a fan base down here.”
On the freshmen playing
“Our freshmen are getting better. They’re starting to understand some of the things to do. They’re getting more instinctive at what they’re supposed to do. They’re in the right place more often and make the right cuts more often. As a result they get opportunities. The most unselfish play I’ve seen all night is Alison Jackson coming down the court on a 2-on-1 and passing the ball to a freshman who hasn’t had a point all year so she can score.”
Samantha Prahalis, junior guard
On Ohio State’s defense
“We had a lot of runs because our defense was rebounding. Our defense was key to getting us going. We were focused on defense. It helped us get some easy baskets. We haven’t been playing the greatest defense, so the game was slower and we haven’t been getting a lot of good shots.”
Jantel Lavender, senior center
On the win
“I think the fun part about it was the fact we played well out there. I think everyone was on the same page defensively. When we started to get runs, it was fun. It’s something I want to get used to, so we have to play every game like that. It feels good. It feels like who we are, like how we’re supposed to feel.”
On the team’s aggression
“I think our aggression was from how they started to commit on us. When you start to become aggressive, people start fouling, and that ‘s something we need to bring in every game.”
On the atmosphere in Nationwide Arena
“It was fun. It was a neutral floor. I just wanted to win. I wanted to get some different looks and I think it worked.”
Sharon Versyp, Purdue head coach
On Purdue’s defense
“We had 10 fouls to one so that broke it down pretty immediately. They got to the free throw line in the first half and we couldn’t play defense. Our post players had to sit on the bench and we’ve never been in this situation. We’ve never had this happen to us the entire year. But it was very difficult and we have to learn from it.”
On how Ohio State played and the race for the Big Ten title
“I thought they came out and played like they did against Michigan State. Losing three in a row makes a team desperate. I think there are seven teams in the conference that should go to the NCAA [tournament]. There are seven teams in the Top 50 of the RPI. I think it’s great and I hope people notice it. On any given day anything can happen in this league.”