CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Brittany Johnson scored 22 points and Jantel Lavender added 19 and 12 boards to help No. 25 Ohio State beat Illinois 71-62 on Thursday night.
The second straight win moved Ohio State back to .500 in league play heading into its game with No. 18 Iowa Monday in Columbus (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
Johnson tied a career high with seven three-pointers while the Buckeyes also got a lift off the bench from freshman center Ashley Adams. The Siloam Springs, Ark., native played with confidence and poise, nearly recording a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds. She also had five blocks, four assists and three steals.
Sophomore Tayler Hill went 0-of-10 from the field, but stayed aggressive and wound up with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
After a slow start, the Buckeyes (12-6, 3-3 Big Ten) built a 38-29 halftime lead behind 15 first-half points from Johnson, who hit 5-of-6 from behind the arc in the opening half.
“I was feeling good, I thought we all came out and played hard,” Johnson said. “It was just a fun game. I had some good looks because (Illinois) was doubling down.”
Karisma Penn added 26 points and 18 rebounds for the Illini (7-12, 2-4), who have now lost seven straight games to the Buckeyes. This marks Penn’s 12th double-double of the season, which leads the Big Ten.
The Illini jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the first 2:25. Lana Rukavina made two layups and Penn added a bucket of her own to put the Illini up early.
Ohio State took it’s first lead of the game, 26-24, on a 3-pointer from Johnson with 4:03 to play, but Illinois’ Blinn answered right back with a 3-pointer of her own, retaking the lead for the Illini.
“Brittany got great looks, took her time, and I thought, defensively, she did a great job,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said.
Adams then hit a layup to put the Buckeyes up by one. On the next trip down the court for the Buckeyes, Johnson nailed another 3-pointer to increase their lead to 31-27 with 2:54 to play in the half. Adams’ jumper with five seconds remaining in the half put the Buckeyes up 38-29.
Illinois dissolved Ohio State’s lead midway through the second half on a three-point play from Lydia McCully, giving Illinois the lead, 50-49, with 9:30 to play. That lead wouldn’t last long as Johnson sank yet another 3-pointer to put Ohio State back on top for good.
Ohio State Postgame Notes
• The win moves Ohio State back to .500 (3-3) in Big Ten play.
• Jim Foster is 14-4 against Illinois in his Ohio State career.
• Ohio State has won the last seven meetings with Illinois and leads the all-time series 43-7.
• Ohio State is 12-0 this year when leading at the half.
• Jantel Lavender has scored in double-figures in all 120 career games. She finished with 19 points and recorded her 11th double-double of the year with 12 rebounds.
• Ohio State is 10-1 this season when scoring 70+ points and 1-5 when scoring fewer. They were 25-0 last season when scoring 70 or more.
• Freshman center Ashley Adams recorded career highs of 13 points, nine rebounds, five blocks, four assists and three steals.
• Senior Brittany Johnson tied a career-high with seven three-pointers. She also hit seven in last year’s win over Oklahoma State. The seven made also is tied for second most on Ohio State’s all-time list.
• Freshman Martina Ellerbe made her first career start in place of the injured Sarah Schulze.
• Sophomore Tayler Hill recorded her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.