PHILADELPHIA — Jantel Lavender wouldn’t let Temple spoil Jim Foster’s homecoming.
Lavender had a career-high 37 points and 12 rebounds to lead No. 7 Ohio State to an 84-75 win over the Owls on Friday in the season opener for both teams.
Foster grew up in Philadelphia and went to Temple. He had about 60 friends and family members in attendance, including his mother.
“This was more difficult than most road games should be with so many outside things,” Foster said. “It was a good win for us.”
Lavender made it easier for her coach, hitting 16 of her 22 shots as the Owls couldn’t stop the preseason All-America.
“Coach Foster told me to slow my game down a little bit and not rush each shot,” Lavender said. “My teammates helped me get a lot of good looks.”
The Buckeyes were missing starting point guard Samantha Prahalis, suspended for three games by the school for a secondary NCAA rules violation. Prahalis sat out Friday and will miss a home game against Eastern Michigan as well as a road game at LSU.
Qwedia Wallace had a career-high 32 points to lead Temple, which hit 12-of-23 3-pointers.
“The basket did feel big,” Wallace said. “It’s frustrating looking back that we were right in the game.”
The score was tied at 60 with 8:36 left before Ohio State used a 15-4 spurt to take control. Lavender got it started with a lay-in and Brittany Johnson capped it with a 3-pointer with 3:30 left that put the game away.
Tayler Hill and Johnson had 16 points each. Alison Jackson added 11.
“Tayler did a great job in her first game at the point,” Foster said. “Not having Sammy will help us in the long run get other players more comfortable as the season progresses.”
The Buckeyes led by five at halftime and Temple rallied behind its 3-point shooting to tie the game at 60 on BJ Williams’ free throws. The Owls never had a chance to take the lead as Lavender quickly answered.
Ohio State, which has won its last 16 season openers, is coming off one of the best seasons in program history. The Buckeyes won a school-record 31 games last season before falling to Mississippi State in the second round of the NCAA tournament. They also won their sixth straight Big Ten title.
Without Prahalis, the Buckeyes got off to a slow start — trailing 5-0. Ohio State quickly recovered, scoring 13 of the next 15 points to take a 13-7 advantage on Sarah Schulze’s layup. After Victoria Macaulay’s putback made it a four-point game, Jackson had a three-point play and Johnson hit a 3-pointer to make it a 10-point lead.
The game was briefly stopped as the clock in front of the Temple bench went out. After a brief timeout, play resumed and Lavender’s layup made it 25-14. The Owls responded with back-to-back 3-pointers by Satoria Bell and Natasha Thames to cut their deficit to five.
Another layup by Lavender restored the advantage to 31-22 before Temple went on a 10-2 run to close within 33-32 on Bell’s floater.
Ohio State held a 39-34 halftime lead as Lavender had 16 points and eight rebounds at the break. The Buckeyes were forced to play their starters a lot because of Prahalis’ absence. They also were missing Amber Stokes (mononucleosis) and Amy Scullion (torn ACL).
The Owls were coming off their seventh straight NCAA tournament appearance. Coach Tonya Cardoza returned three starters from that team, which lost in the second round to Connecticut by 54 points.
“Even with our scrimmages in the preseason against two top 15 teams we were one basket away from winning,” Cardoza said. “We just didn’t get stops on the defensive end. If we win today we’d put ourselves on the map.”
Ohio State Postgame Notes
• Ohio State has won its last 16 season openers and has not dropped an opener since 1994.
• Ohio State is 36-10 all-time in season openers.
• Ohio State is 32-5 all-time against members of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
• Friday was the first meeting between Ohio State and Temple.
• Jantel Lavender scored a career-high 37 points for her ninth career 30-point game. Her previous career high was 36 set during her freshman season. The 37 points is tied for the third-most in Ohio State single game history.
• Lavender also recorded her 58th career double-double with 12 rebounds to go along with her 37 points.
• Senior Sarah Schulze recorded a career-high eight assists, more than doubling her previous high of three.
• Lavender has scored in double figures in all 103 career games, the longest active streak in Division I.
• Ohio State shot 22-of-23 (95.7 percent) from the free throw line, to just 3-of-8 for Temple.
• The Buckeyes outrebounded the Owls, 39-27, including 30-15 on the defensive end.
• Ohio State shot 55.8 percent from the field, including 16-of-22 from Lavender.
• Tayler Hill started at point guard for the Buckeyes, recording 16 points (12 in the second half), four assists and four steals.
• Ohio State played without junior point guard Samantha Prahalis, who is serving the first of a three-game suspension for an NCAA secondary rules violation. Senior Alison Jackson started in her place and contributed with 11 points and four rebounds.