COLUMBUS, Ohio – The high-low game has turned a low point into a high one for No. 24 Ohio State.
Jantel Lavender hit double figures for the 121st consecutive game, scoring 22 points to lead No. 24 Ohio State to an 81-67 win over No. 18 Iowa on Monday night.
Almost as important as yet another good game for Lavender – she also had eight rebounds and six assists – was the play of fellow post player Ashley Adams.
Virtually unseen for most of the year, the 6-foot-5 freshman has teamed with the 6-4 Lavender to give the Buckeyes (13-6, 4-3 Big Ten) a lethal high-low post game. Adams, who took over two games ago when senior starter Sarah Schulze went out with a knee injury, chipped in with 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
“She’s hard to guard,” said Iowa coach Lisa Bluder, who hadn’t seen Adams when the Hawkeyes drilled the Buckeyes 89-76 in Iowa City on Jan. 8. “With her size, she’s an accurate field-goal shooter. And her and Jantel do a really nice job with the high-low. It looks like they’re really looking for each other really well.”
The Buckeyes shot 72 percent from the field in the second half – including 14 of 17 (82 percent) on shots inside the arc – to turn a one-point deficit at the half into a comfortable win.
Much of that is attributable to Adams and Lavender taking turns dumping lob passes into each other, or else flipping the ball out to wide-open teammates.
“I enjoy it,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said of the high-low. “When you get two post players that can make a shot from the high post and the low post and can both pass, it’s a lot of fun.”
Brittany Johnson added 15, Tayler Hill 13 and Samantha Prahalis 10 points to go with eight assists in Ohio State’s third consecutive win.
“Ask Brittany, she’s having fun, because she’s going to be open,” Foster said. “Ask Sammy and Tayler because they can get to the basket. The court gets bigger.”
Johnson hit 5 of 9 shots – all 3-pointers – to burn the Hawkeyes when they doubled up down low on one of the posts.
“It’s definitely opening up the floor for the guards because they’re doubling down on Jantel or Ashley and they’re kicking it back out,” she said.
Kelly Krei had 15 points, Morgan Johnson 14, Kamille Wahlin 13 and Jaime Printy 12 for the Hawkeyes (15-5, 3-4), who haven’t won in Columbus in 13 years.
Kachine Alexander, who had nine points and 11 rebounds, said Ohio State’s twin towers caused all kinds of havoc.
“Definitely, especially in our zone,” she said. “It was a little harder because we weren’t really used to that. Schulze was in the last time and she usually plays on the perimeter. It gives their team a different look.”
Adams had just 17 points in Ohio State’s first 17 games; she’s had 29 in the last two.
She said it’s been a big transition from high school in Siloam Springs, Ark., to playing in the Big Ten.
“It’s way quicker,” she said. “But we have a lot of drills in practice that help with conditioning and that helps a lot of us.”
After going through curious swoon in midseason that resulted in losses in six of nine games after a 7-0 start, the Buckeyes feel as though they’ve turned a page.
“Most definitely,” Lavender said. “The three wins can definitely boost your confidence back up. I feel like we don’t want to start losing again. We just want to do everything we can to not lose. We just want to be different from how we were in the games that we lost.”
• Ohio State has won 14 of the past 16 meetings with Iowa and has split the season series with the Hawkeyes after Iowa won, 89-76, Jan. 8 in Iowa City.
• Ohio State leads the all-time series in Columbus, 18-7.
• Jim Foster is 14-2 against Iowa in his Ohio State career.
• Ohio State is 11-1 this season when scoring 70+ points.
• Ohio State is now 3-2 this season against ranked opponents, defeating No. 11 Oklahoma, No. 9 Michigan State and No. 18 Iowa and falling to No. 1 UConn and No. 21 Iowa.
• Ohio State won for the first time this year when trailing at the half (1-6).
• Ohio State is 11-1 this season when scoring 70 or more and 1-5 when scoring fewer. OSU was 25-0 last season when scoring at least 70.
• Ohio State is 137-11 at home overall under Jim Foster and 110-7 since the start of 2004-05.
• Since the start of Ohio State’s Big Ten championship run in 2004-05, the Buckeyes are 51-3 in Big Ten games at Value City Arena.
• The Buckeyes’ 24 assists were the second-highest total on the season behind a 25-assist game vs. UNC Wilmington Nov. 28.
• Ohio State’s .429 (9-21) 3-point shooting percentage also was the second-best ratio this season. Against No. 11 Oklahoma Dec. 5, the Buckeyes were 8-for-18 (.444).
• For the fifth game this season, Ohio State shot 50 percent or better from the field. The Buckeyes were a season-best 18-for-25 in the second half for 72 percent and were 12-for-29 in the first half for 41.4 percent shooting.
• In her first career start, freshman Ashley Adams scored a career-best 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting and was 2-for2 at the free throw line in a career-high 36 minutes.
• Jantel Lavender became just the second player in Big Ten history to eclipse 1,000 field goals after going 9-for-13 from the field in 39 minutes. In all, Lavender scored 22 points.
• Lavender is the second-leading active scorer in the nation behind UConn’s Maya Moore.
• Lavender has scored 10+ points in all 121 career games, the longest active streak in Division I.
• After grabbing eight rebounds Monday night, Lavender is eight boards away from becoming the Big Ten’s all-time leading rebounder.
• Senior Brittany Johnson was 5-of-9 from three-point range and now has 12 three-pointers in her last two games.
Jim Foster, Ohio State head coach
On the second half
“I thought our defense was terrific and our ball movement on the offensive end was what we needed to be doing. Sammy did a great job and in the second half Tayler did a great job. The rest of our defenders felt comfortable in their situations playing one-to-one defense.”
On the advantage of having Jantel Lavender and Ashley Adams in at the same time
“I enjoy it. I have had the experience before. When you get two post players who can make shots from high post and low post and can throw the pass, it’s a lot of fun. Ask Brittany, Sammy and Tayler. It’s fun. They can get to the basket and the court gets bigger.”
On the team’s progress this season
We are starting to get it. We are starting to understand we are a pretty good basketball team. We have a multitude of weapons and when the ball moves, all of those weapons come into play.”
On tonight’s scoring
“We had five people in double figures tonight. A lot of those games we lost we may have had two. It’s hard to play a team that has five players that are scoring. We needed to get tougher and that means a lot of things.”
On freshman center Ashley Adams
“She does two things that take time to learn in this game. The first is keeping the ball high and the other is being a good passer. She has those two things. What’s new is she is playing with a bunch of people who can make shots and it accelerates that ability and makes everyone want to move. If you move, you know you are going to get the ball. That is what we are watching evolve.”
Ashley Adams, freshman center
On the transition from high school to college basketball
“The game is much quicker, but there are a lot of drills in practice that help with conditioning. My coaches and teammates have done a great job of helping me adjust to the college game.”
Brittany Johnson, senior guard
On Ashley Adams’ passing game
“I think Ashley [Adams] is doing a great job. It is definitely opening up the floor for the guards because she’s kicking it back out. She’s a really good passer. We did a good job moving the ball and making the extra pass.”
On her play, specifically her shooting
“I had confidence in myself and the team has confidence in me. They passed me the ball for a reason. I was open and I told myself to concentrate and shoot the ball.”
On the guards’ play
“It makes it easier on the posts if we’re hitting outside. Tayler [Hill] and Samantha [Prahalis] do a good job of attacking the basket and hitting the open person. We need to step up and have confidence in ourselves.”
On the team’s defense
“We stayed down low. We didn’t go for their fakes and we did a good job boxing out in the second half.”
Jantel Lavender, senior center
On playing with Ashley Adams
“I just think it makes it a lot easier. If I’m getting double-teamed I can just throw it up and she can go get it. It instills confidence. It makes everything a lot easier, gives you that much more momentum and gets you that much more pumped up.”
On the team’s defense
“Our defensive effort was phenomenal. Everyone was tuned into their defensive job tonight. We weren’t letting them drive to the basket and we were closing out and not letting them get second shots. Everyone was rebounding and tuned-in.”
On the team’s momentum
“Three wins can definitely boost your confidence. We don’t want that feeling of losing again. We want to get defensive stops and run in transition and play differently from the games that we lost.”
Lisa Bluder, Iowa head coach
On the game
“I want to congratulate Ohio State on a great second half. I think they outplayed us in every regard. The first half was a great game between the two teams, but in the second half they just came out and had a much greater intensity than we did.”
On Ohio State freshman center Ashley Adam’s play
“I think she and Jantel [Lavender] do a nice job with the high-low. They’re really always looking for each other.”
On Iowa’s next opponent, Michigan State
“We have Michigan State next, and that’s a tough game to bounce back with. We only have one day to prepare for them and we have them at home. It has become a very important game for us.”