WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Ohio State’s defense dominated the first half, then the 19th-ranked Buckeyes held on to beat Purdue 71-60 on Sunday and move into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.
Purdue made just one field goal in the first nine minutes. The Buckeyes led 35-16 at halftime as Purdue barely missed producing its lowest-scoring half in school history.
Jantel Lavender, who led the Buckeyes with 21 points, said Shavelle Little’s defensive pressure against Purdue’s guards got the Buckeyes going.
“I think that kind of got their guards out of synch,” Lavender said. “I think her being at the top playing so aggressively was the major start of our defense. Everybody was really intense today, the wings were denying. I think that flowed to everyone on the floor.”
Ohio State (16-3, 7-1 Big Ten) held Purdue to 5-for-18 shooting in the first half and forced 14 turnovers.
Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, Purdue’s leading scorer, played just eight minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. She scored all 16 of her points in the second half, but she was disappointed that she couldn’t help the Boilermakers through their early struggles.
“I let myself down, let my team down getting in foul trouble early. Dumb fouls. I need to be out there on the court for my team.”
Purdue coach Sharon Versyp credited Ohio State’s defense, but also said her guards played tentatively and her posts didn’t finish.
“We had shots, we had layups down low, we had open looks, and you’ve got to knock, not all of them, but a couple of them down, and then it kind of elevates you a little bit.”
Samantha Prahalis had 13 points and six assists and Ashlee Trebilcock added 12 points for the Buckeyes.
Danielle Campbell scored 14 points for Purdue (13-7, 6-3). The Boilermakers have lost two of their past three games after winning the previous four.
Purdue got as close as eight points in the second half.
“I was very pleased with the second half,” Versyp said. “Extremely disappointed — ridiculous first half.”
Wisdom-Hylton helped the Boilermakers battle back in the second half. Purdue trimmed Ohio State’s lead to 55-46 before Trebilcock hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to make it 58-46 with 4:13 to play.
Trebilcock knew she was running out of time.
“Well, I knew it was getting close,” she said. “The bench was in my ear. Everybody was telling me to shoot, so I shot.”
Lavender and Star Allen, Ohio State’s top post players, picked up their fourth fouls with more than six minutes to play. Ohio State picked up its tenth foul of the second half with 6:29 remaining while holding a 54-44 lead. Purdue didn’t take advantage of either situation.
The Buckeyes had 12 offensive rebounds in the second half, allowing them to drain the clock and hold off Purdue’s rally.
“Where we got to the point where it was a 10-point game and it was critical, we played 30 seconds of defense, they’d get the loose ball or the offensive board, and then we’d have to play another 30 seconds of defense,” Versyp said.
Prahalis said the Buckeyes played like they had forgotten the score at times.
“I think we just needed to settle down and realize that we were still up and that we needed to run our offense and finish up the game,” she said.
Ohio State coach Jim Foster said the Buckeyes, who start a freshman and two sophomores, took an important step in their development.
“We just played a very good basketball team,” he said. “We had to play for 40 minutes to win the basketball game. That’s something that a young team has to understand. Games aren’t won in 20 minutes.”
With the win Ohio State moves back into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten at 7-1 after Indiana (7-2) lost at Illinois Sunday.
Ohio State leads the all-time series with Purdue 34-25 and 15-12 in games played in West Lafayette.
Ohio State has won 10 of its last 11 overall.
Ohio State has won 70 of its last 80 Big Ten regular-season games and 37 of its last 39 at home.
Head coach Jim Foster is 85-21 in Big Ten regular-season games at Ohio State.
Lavender has scored in double figures in all 50 career games, the sixth-longest active streak in Division I. She finished with a game-high 21 points on 10-of-16 from the field.
Lavender leads the Big Ten with 14 games of 20 or more points this season.
Lavender now 957 career points in 50 games and can tie Katie Smith as the fastest Ohio State women’s player to score 1,000 points. Smith was the fastest at 52 games, while Frani Washington did it in 56. Lavender needs 43 points (21.5 per game) over the next two games to tie Smith.
Ohio State is 14-1 this season when they equal or make more from the free throw line.
Ohio State is 51-of-57 (.894) from the free throw line in its last three games. They were 21-of-24 today.
Star Allen, who was assigned to Wade candidate Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton for most of the game, recorded a career-high four steals. She also finished with a game-high nine rebounds.
Ohio State went on a 19-2 run in the first half to open up a 30-10 lead with 2:24 left before halftime.
Ohio State led 35-16 at halftime. The 16 points by the Boilers was their lowest output in a half this season.
The Buckeyes are 14-0 this season when leading at the half.
The Buckeyes won the battle on the boards, 39-26, and 19-9 in the first half.
Purdue led on the boards 7-2 at the first media timeout … the Buckeyes outrebounded the Boilermakers 17-2 the rest of the half.
The Buckeyes are 12-1 this season when they outrebound the opposition. Its only loss was at now-No. 5 Auburn.
Samantha Prahalis played all 40 minutes, recording 13 points, six assists and only three turnovers. She also was 6-of-7 from the FT line.
Prahalis now has 113 assists on the season and is on pace to break Kim Wilburn’s Ohio State freshman record of 168 dishes set during the 2002-03 season.
Shavelle Little finished with four steals and leads the Big Ten with 25 steals (3.57) in conference games.