COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State sure didn’t look tired after playing its starters for all but a combined 38 minutes its the first two games, even though they were 48 hours apart.
The No. 7 Buckeyes got 26 points from Jantel Lavender and three others in double figures on Sunday, allowing them to pull away from pesky Eastern Michigan for a 74-62 win.
Ohio State (2-0) is learning to cope without point guard Samantha Prahalis, who sat the second of a three-game suspension for secondary NCAA violations last season. She has started 71 games the past two seasons.
Also absent were three other players because of injuries or illness, and Ohio State coach Jim Foster went to his young bench for only 10 minutes during an 84-75 win at Temple on Friday.
On Sunday, the Buckeyes opened a 13-point lead in the first half, saw the Eagles tie the score at 28 on the first basket of the second half and led by only five with 9 minutes left.
“The whole team seemed a little tired,” Eastern Michigan coach AnnMarie Gilbert said of the Buckeyes. Foster disagreed and used the stat sheet to make his case.
“My response would be tired teams don’t shoot 60 percent from the field,” he said. “Tired teams don’t shoot 89 percent from the foul line. End of discussion.”
The Buckeyes made 18 of 30 from the floor and eight of nine free throws in the second half while hitting 53 percent of their field goals (53.7 percent) for the game.
When it was suggested that his club may have started flat, Foster bristled.
“I don’t know why the word flat would even come into the conversation,” he said. “We had four people in double figures. We had 42 rebounds to the other team’s 34. We shoot 53 percent and change from the field. That’s disrespectful to your opponent to say you’re flat.”
Lavender had 15 points in the second half, when Sarah Schulze had all 11 of her points. Tayler Hill, who took over as point guard for Prahalis, had 13 points and Brittany Johnson also added 11.
“My coaches and teammates have giving me a lot of support,” Hill said.
The Eagles (1-1) made only three of their first 21 shots and went 5 minutes without a basket as the Buckeyes increased a four-point advantage to 22-9.
“We could have folded right there but we didn’t,” Gilbert said.
The skid ended when De’Ja Wills came off the bench to hit a jumper with 7:09 left. Tavelyn James had 12 of her 18 points for the Eagles in the second half, and Wills had 11 off the bench.
Ohio State’s reserves contributed 28 minutes from four players and got six points by freshman Martina Ellerbe.
“I have faith in my teammates,” Schulze said. “If one of the starters is out we have girls on the bench who can do the job.”
• Ohio State now leads the all-time series vs. Eastern Michigan, 2-1. The Buckeyes won the first meeting in 1991, 80-74, while EMU won the last meeting, 70-58, in 2001 in Columbus.
• Ohio State is 128-10 at home overall under head coach Jim Foster and is 101-6 since the start of the 2004-05 season.
• Ohio State has won 111 of 112 games at home against unranked opponents.
• Senior All-American Jantel Lavender has scored in double figures in all 104 career games – the longest active streak in the nation. Against Eastern Michigan, Lavender scored 26 points and had nine rebounds.
• Lavender tied her career-high in assists with seven vs. Eastern Michigan. Lavender previously recorded seven assists at Auburn Nov. 23, 2008.
• Lavender has 63 points (31.5), 21 rebounds (10.5), 10 assists and five blocks in the first two games. She is shooting 66.7 percent from the field and 91.7 from the free throw line this season.
• After playing a career-high 38 minutes last season vs. Michigan State (Feb. 21, 2010), sophomore Tayler Hill has played 40 minutes in back-to-back games this season at point guard.
• For the third time in her career, senior Alison Jackson tied her career-high in rebounds with five. She previously recorded five rebounds last season vs. UNCG Nov. 25, 2009.
• Freshman Martina Ellerbe came off the bench for the Buckeyes and scored six points and had five rebounds. Her first points of her collegiate career came off a 3-pointer at the 9:43 mark in the first half.
• Ohio State shot 60.0 percent in the second half and 88.9 percent from the free throw line.
Jim Foster, Ohio State head coach
On lessons from the game vs. EMU
“We can’t underestimate our opponents. Eastern Michigan is a good team. They won 22 games last year and they’re very athletic. They played well.”
On Ohio State’s performance in the second half
“We executed well, shot the ball well and took our time finding shots; that is evident by the fact we shot 60 percent from the field and made 8-9 foul shots. We executed the way you need to to win.”
On the play of Jantel Lavender and Sarah Schulze over the first two games
“Jantel and Sarah are taking the responsibility to create shots for their teammates. In two games, Sarah has 11 assists and Jantel 10 – that’s 21 baskets for the rest of the team because of their passing.”
On the Eastern Michigan run to close the first half
“They made some 3’s and we didn’t have a real sense of urgency on the offensive or defensive end. We need to develop that sense of urgency.”
Jantel Lavender, senior center
On Eastern Michigan’s defense
“They tried to push me up the lane and when I caught it they double teamed me quickly, but I reverse pivot. You see the floor when you reverse pivot. It lets you see everything.”
Tayler Hill, sophomore guard
On what she has learned from starting at point guard
“I have learned more. My coaches and teammates are doing a good job supporting me. I need to work on changing paces. It is coming.”
Sarah Schulze, senior forward
On Eastern Michigan’s first-half run
“I wasn’t worried. I knew my teammates and I could pull it out. I have faith in this team. If any of our starters have to sit, our bench can handle it.”
AnnMarie Gilbert, Eastern Michigan head coach
On overall thoughts on the game
“We certainly would like to tip our hats to The Ohio State University. They’re a very talented basketball team; a six-time champion of the Big Ten and I think one of the top rebounding teams in the country. They did a very good job tonight. I’m proud of my team, especially at halftime. I even wrote on the board, ‘Great Half.’ I think if a few more things would have fallen in our favor it could have been a different game and a different outcome.”
On Eastern Michigan’s performance
“We’re a very resilient team. I’m very proud of our first half. That’s how I want to see them fight. We need to do some things with our post defense. We wanted to stop Jantel so she didn’t score 37 points against us like she did against Temple. I think we did a good job at that, but other people stepped up for them. Tayler Hill stepped up, Schulze stepped up and made a lot of plays for them.”
On EMU guard Cassie Schrock
“She’s that glue to our team. You see a stockier kid who people think is just a forward, but she’s so much more for our program. She has helped me put Eastern Michigan on the map. She’s just a blue-collar player from Ohio. I coach in Michigan, but I love Ohio and I love basketball players from Ohio. She let the game come to her. She didn’t force things tonight. I would have liked her to be a little more aggressive. She let their size upset her. She didn’t get to the free throw line as much as I would like. She didn’t attack as much as she could have tonight.”