Jantel Lavender and Star Allen combine for 34 points and 32 rebounds
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — It didn’t take long for Ohio State to show that its rematch with Iowa was headed for a much different result.
The No. 12 Buckeyes ran out to a 20-2 lead and eventually beat the Hawkeyes 72-56 on Saturday night in the Big Ten tournament semifinals.
Iowa beat Ohio State 85-75 in their only regular-season meeting. That defensive meltdown was on the Buckeyes’ minds.
“That was a major emphasis,” said Jantel Lavender, who led Ohio State with 21 points and 17 rebounds. “We knew if we gave up 85 points, it’s kind of hard for us to beat a team like that. Eighty-five points is just too much to give up. We knew that.”
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said Ohio State looked like a different team this time.
“They came out much more aggressive than they did at our place the first time,” she said. “It caught us off-guard a little bit. We had seen good defense throughout the year, but Ohio State certainly is a great team. They really came out wanting to avenge that loss. They did a great job.”
Star Allen had 13 points and 15 rebounds for the top-seeded Buckeyes (26-5), who will play Purdue in the final for the third time in four years. Purdue, the No. 3 seed, beat No. 7-seed Wisconsin 70-56 in the other semifinal to advance to Sunday’s championship game.
Purdue, the two-time defending tournament champion, beat Ohio State in the 2007 final. The Boilermakers have won seven titles in 14 years. They have the advantage of playing at Conseco Fieldhouse, about 65 miles from campus.
“This is sort of like their home court,” Lavender said. “We have to come out and play with the kind of intensity we played with today.”
Kamille Wahlin and Kristi Smith each scored 11 points for the fourth-seeded Hawkeyes (21-10).
Ohio State enters the final on a seven-game winning streak. Iowa had won its last seven games.
The Buckeyes led 34-17 at halftime and increased its advantage to 25 with 12:13 to play.
“We set the tempo in the first half,” Lavender said. “We came out with that same energy in the second half. We knew if we didn’t let up it was kind of hard for them to keep up with us. We came out and played the exact same way in the second half and it was effective.”
Ohio State followed a 57 percent shooting effort in its quarterfinal win over Illinois with 48 percent accuracy against the Hawkeyes. The Buckeyes also outrebounded Iowa, 41-34.
Iowa, which had scored 79 points in a win over Minnesota the previous night, shot just 37 percent against Ohio State, including a 29 percent effort in the first half. The Hawkeyes led the Big Ten in scoring and 3-point percentage during conference games, but didn’t get going on Saturday until it was too late.
“I thought they came out and played extremely well,” Bluder said. “I thought their defensive intensity was great. It almost shell-shocked us, the way they played defense. We were back on our heels and turned the ball over too many times to begin the game. You can’t give a good team like that that many points right off the bat.”
Wendy Ausdemore, who scored 25 points in Iowa’s quarterfinal win over Minnesota, scored nine points on 4-for-9 shooting against Ohio State.
Smith, Iowa’s leading scorer this season, made just 4-of-13 shots.
“It was just frustrating,” Smith said.
Ohio State now expects Purdue to make adjustments for the final. The Buckeyes won the first meeting 71-60 at Purdue, then won the rematch 71-58 in Columbus.
“I’m sure people will have wrinkles,” said Ohio State coach Jim Foster. “It’s the nature of what we do. … We’ll have some thoughts, as will they.”
Top-seed Ohio State advances to Sunday’s championship game and will play No. 3 Purdue at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
Ohio State advances to its third tournament championship in the past four years all against Purdue and its fifth overall.
Ohio State is 22-13 all-time in the Big Ten tournament.
Head coach Jim Foster is 11-5 all-time in the Big Ten tournament.
Ohio State is 20-0 this year when leading at the half.
Ohio State is 10-3 this season away from home.
The Buckeyes lead the all-time series with Iowa, 26-25, and have won 11 of the last 12 meetings overall.
Saturday was just the second meeting all-time between the two teams in the Big Ten tournament.
Ohio State is 21-1 this season when they make more free throws than its opponent and 39-1 over the last two seasons when accomplishing that feat.
Freshman Samantha Prahalis dished out five more assists and now has 181 on the season, improving on her Ohio State freshman record.
Sophomore Jantel Lavender finished with 21 points and 17 rebounds for her 22nd double-double of the season and the 35th of her career. The Buckeyes are 29-6 over the past two years when Lavender gets a double-double.
Lavender now holds the Ohio State single-season record for rebounds with 337, breaking the old mark of 325 set by Jessica Davenport in 2004-05.
Lavender also set a new Ohio State Big Ten tournament record with her 17 rebounds, breaking the old mark of 14 set by three other Buckeye players.
Her 17 boards also tie for the second-most in a Big Ten Tournament game. She just missed the record of 18.
Lavender’s 35 career double-doubles are the most among active Big Ten players in only her sophomore season.
Lavender has scored 10 or more points in all 62 career games, the fourth-longest active streak in Division I.
Lavender now was 1,196 career points, breaking Katie Smith’s record of 1,194 points in her first two seasons as a Buckeye.
Star Allen finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season and the 11th of her career.
In the last seven games, Allen has scored 114 points (16.2 ppg). Her season average is 10.6 ppg.
Defensive player of the year Shavelle Little recorded six steals and five assists in 26 minutes of action. She has 15 games with three or more steals.