ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan gave Ohio State all it could handle for the second time in three weeks. Both times the Wolverines fell just short.
Jantel Lavender scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to help the Buckeyes (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) rally to beat the Wolverines 58-56 on Thursday night. On Jan. 3, Ohio State beat Michigan 59-56 in Columbus.
“That’s just a good, solid basketball team and they are a tough matchup for us,” said Ohio State coach Jim Foster, whose team trailed by as many as seven in the second half. “They battle for everything, and we haven’t been able to shake them.”
Ohio State, which hasn’t lost at Michigan since 1999, has now won 12 straight since losing 83-67 to Duke (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) on Dec. 3.
Samantha Prahalis added 13 points and nine assists for Ohio State (20-1, 8-0 Big Ten).
“I knew late in the game that I was going to have to get more aggressive,” said Lavender, who scored 11 points in an 11-minute stretch of the second half. “I got some open lanes and was able to get to the basket.”
Carmen Reynolds, a Columbus native, scored 20 for Michigan (10-8, 2-6).
“We’re never going to be satisfied with close losses,” the sophomore said. “It’s nice that we’ve been able to stay close in both games, but we need to finish these off.”
Trailing by three, Lavender scored to make it 50-49 with 6:23 left. Andrea Walker’s layup gave the Buckeyes the lead. Michigan continued to struggle offensively, but Reynolds’ 3-pointer pulled them within two. After a shot-clock violation by Ohio State, the Wolverines had the ball with 23.8 seconds left.
Krista Phillips missed a 3-pointer, but the Buckeyes couldn’t corral the rebound, giving Michigan one more chance. Reynolds, though, turned the ball over while driving the lane.
“I think I tripped over someone’s foot,” Reynolds said. “I stumbled, and I lost control of the ball.”
The lost ball ended Michigan’s chances of ending both Ohio State’s winning streak and its own 14-game slide against the Buckeyes.
“I wish I could tell you why we play them so well, and I wish I could explain the peaks and valleys in a game like this,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “One minute, you’re hitting everything and they are in a drought, and the next minutes, you can’t make a shot and they can’t miss.”
Michigan jumped out to a 17-12 lead behind eight points from Jenny Ryan and seven from Reynolds, but neither scored again in the half. That helped Ohio State take a 32-27 advantage at the intermission. Prahalis had nine points and five assists in opening 20 minutes.
Reynolds scored another seven points in the first six minutes of the second half as Michigan used a 19-2 run to regain the lead.
“We really struggled to get into a rhythm offensively, especially early in the second half,” Foster said. “Luckily, our defense did a great job down the stretch and got us enough stops to get back into the game.”