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Early Ohio State run proves insurmountable for Michigan, Lavender nets 28 points

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State coach Jim Foster saw his team’s 22-0 first-half burst as an example of what women’s basketball can be.
  
Jantel Lavender scored 28 points, including nine during that big surge, to lead No. 18 Ohio State past Michigan 70-50 on Sunday.
  
“It was a fun game to be involved with at that point in time because it was up and down, and it was what you would like to think that this game is going to evolve into,” Foster said of the early blitz.
  
He added, “Those 42-35 mud-wrestling games don’t bring people back into the bleachers.”

It was the conference opener for both teams. The Buckeyes are trying to become the first team to win five straight Big Ten titles since Ohio State did it in 1983-87.
  
Ashlee Trebilcock scored 16 points and Samantha Prahalis had 10 points and seven assists for the Buckeyes (10-2), who have won four in a row. They scored 31 points off of Michigan’s 22 turnovers.
  
“We set the tempo,” Lavender said. “We let teams (know) that we’re not just coming out lackadaisical just because we’ve won four consecutive Big Ten titles. We just came out and we played hard. I think that sent the message out to all the other Big Ten schools.”
  
Veronica Hicks had 13 points for Michigan (7-5).
  
Asked what he told his team after the loss, a frustrated Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said, “One game doesn’t make a season. We have a chance to play them one, maybe two, more times. We’ve got no place to go but up.”
  
Ohio State trailed 4-0 early but then reeled off 22 straight points as the Wolverines went scoreless for almost 8 1/2 minutes.
  
“It is a big deal to come out and make a statement the first game, especially against a good Michigan team,” Trebilcock said.
  
Ohio State has won the last 11 games with Michigan and leads the series 44-6.
  
Prahalis scored five points and had four assists in the 22-0 run, with Lavender hitting four field goals and a free throw for nine points. Shavelle Little, the defensive player of the year in the Big Ten a year ago, harassed Michigan’s guards while making two steals and forcing several other turnovers.
  
“When we pressuring them out on top, Shavelle did a very good job of pressuring the ball-handlers. No one really wanted to take it up against her,” Prahalis said. “We kept getting deflections and we just had a lot of momentum and everyone was really into it.”
  
Foster and his players have vowed that they will be more athletic, quicker and more aggressive this season after early knockouts from the NCAA tournament each of the last three years.
  
“We have verbalized that we’re going to be different,” Foster said. “Being verbal is one thing, (but) doing what you say you’re going to do is another. This team is starting to understand what they’re capable of and what we would like.”
  
The Wolverines missed all eight of their shots from the field and had nine turnovers in their 16 possessions after grabbing the quick lead. Over the same span, the Buckeyes hit 7 of 10 shots from the field and made all seven free throws.
  
Lavender had 17 points and six rebounds at the half, while Prahalis had eight points and six assists.
  
A half-hook at the 4:28 mark gave Lavender 11 points. She has hit double figures in all 43 of her games at Ohio State.
  
After the lengthy drought left them behind by 18 points, the Wolverines cut the deficit to as little as 11 points before Ohio State ran off 11 of the final 13 points in the half to go up 44-22.
  
The lead never dropped below 18 points in the second half as the Buckeyes won their 85th consecutive regular-season game in Columbus against an unranked opponent.
  
Michigan has played four teams ranked in the top 13 in the country at the time, beating two of them (No. 13 Vanderbilt, No. 10 Notre Dame). Borseth said the Buckeyes surpass those teams.
  
“They’re good,” he said. “The best team we’ve played so far.”
  
Foster shot down the theory that the Buckeyes made any kind of a statement beyond the outcome of each game.
  
“I don’t understand that stuff,” he said. “Play hard. This is these kids’ passion, this is what they love to do. You get to play 30-some games a year. Boy, if you can’t get up for that, if you can’t have fun and you can’t be flying around and diving (on the floor), what the heck are you going to do when you have to do something that you don’t love?”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Postgame Notes

 Ohio State has won the last 11 meetings with Michigan and leads the all-time series, 44-6. The Buckeyes lead 24-2 all-time in games played in Columbus. 
 Ohio State has won 35 of its last 36 Big Ten regular-season games at home and 64 of its last 73 overall.
 Jantel Lavender led all players with 28 points and eight rebounds, failing to record a double-double for the first time this season.
 Lavender leads the Big Ten with 10 20-point games this season.
 Lavender has scored in double figures in all 43 career games.
 Freshman Samantha Prahalis, who finished with a game-high seven assists, has dished out four or more in all but one game this season. She also had 10 points.
 Senior Ashlee Trebilcock scored a season-high 16 points. She hit two from deep and all six attempts from the stripe.
 The Buckeyes forced 22 turnovers and outscored UM 31-9 in points off turnovers.
 Ohio State has won 85-consecutive regular-season games in Columbus against unranked opponents. The last unranked team to win in Columbus was Penn State Feb. 3, 2002.
 Ohio State is 74-4 in Columbus since the start of the 2004-05 season and 101-8 all-time in Columbus under head coach Jim Foster.
 Ohio State is 8-0 this year when leading at the half. 
 Ohio State head coaches Jim Foster (women’s basketball), Thad Matta (men’s basketball) and Jim Tressel (football) are a combined 23-2 against Michigan teams in their respective Ohio State tenures. Foster is now 9-0 while Matta and Tressel are both 7-1.
 Ohio State is 8-0 on the season when they make more free throws than its opponents. Ohio State has made more free throws than opponents have attempted in seven games this season.

Postgame Quotes

Jim Foster, Ohio State head coach
On the game
“I thought we played intense today and had a lot of passion. We set a defensive intensity against a very good basketball team. We played hard and we had to match their intensity to win the game.  We are starting to understand what we are capable of and consistency is what we need.”
 
On Jantel Lavender
“I thought this was the best game she’s played since she’s been here. Jantel had good tempo today inside and took her time. She made good reads and decisions all game long.”

On the game’s fouls
“The most exciting plays were taken away today in a sport striving to get more popular. We need those plays to make the game continue to grow bigger.”

Jantel Lavender, sophomore center
On good start in Big Ten
“We set the tempo today. I thought we came out strong in the first half and in the second half it was hard for both teams to get going. We picked it up after the first timeout and played hard throughout the game. I thought we sent a message.”

Ashlee Trebilcock, senior guard
On starting Big Ten play with a win
“Last year we started at Michigan State and that didn’t end well, so we started 0-1. It’s a big deal to come out and make a statement, especially against a good team like Michigan.”

On the momentum of the first half
“It was so fun; we were so hyped in the locker room. It was so fun to play like that. I think it was obvious to us that we want to play like that all the time.”

Samantha Prahalis, freshman guard
On maintaining momentum
“We had a lot of momentum in the first half and everyone was really into it. We carried it over in the beginning of the second half but we need to work on maintaining it the whole half.”

Kevin Borseth, Michigan head coach
On the game
“Number 20 (Shavelle Little) dominated the first 10 minutes (defensively). Ohio State is the best team we’ve faced this season so far.”

On Ohio State
“They made baskets and took the ball away. It is hard to win when you have 20 turnovers.”

On the game’s physicality
“The league (Big Ten) is very physical and Ohio State plays physical.”