COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jantel Lavender recovered from a slow start to score 20 points and grab a career-high 19 rebounds, leading No. 18/19 Ohio State to a 75-56 win over Butler on Friday night as the Buckeyes won their 14th straight regular-season opener.
Lavender, the Big Ten’s freshman and player of the year last season, hit just one of her first six shots from the field while surrounded by defenders. She made six of her last 10 as the Buckeyes outscored the Bulldogs 46-31 in the second half.
The Buckeyes shot 58.6 percent in the second half compared to 31 percent in the first 20 minutes.
Freshman Samantha Prahalis, a 2008 McDonald’s All-American, added 14 points in her debut. A top point guard recruit from Commack, N.Y., she also had four assists, including a nifty no-look feed for a basket by Lavender midway through the second half. Prahalis also had four assists and hit 6-of-9 shots from the field, including two from deep.
Andrea Walker came off the bench to score a career-high 13 points and Star Allen had 10.
Melanie Thornton led Butler with 18 points, with Candace Jones adding 11.
At one point in the first half, Ohio State missed 14 shots from the field in a row — and still led 13-8 because Butler had gone almost 5 minutes without making a shot of its own. The Bulldogs ended up going over 6 1/2 minutes without hitting a shot from the field, missing eight consecutive shots.
The Buckeyes led by as many as 12 points, with the Bulldogs cutting it to 29-25 at the half with Melanie Thornton hitting two late shots.
Ohio State went on a 10-2 run to start the second half — Prahalis hitting two baskets and assisting on one by Lavender. The Buckeyes then pulled away with a 14-2 run — with Lavender scoring eight points, Walker four and Prahalis two.
The Buckeyes return four starters from the four-time defending Big Ten champions, who went 22-9 last year. They are the favorite to make it five in a row.
Butler, 20-10 a year ago with all five starters back, was picked to finish fifth in the Horizon League.
Ohio State is back in action this Sunday at 1 p.m. against Army at Value City Arena.
The Associated Press contributed to this story
Ohio State Postgame Notes
Friday was the first meeting between Ohio State andButler.
Ohio State has won its last 14 regular-season openers.
Ohio State is 34-10 all-time in season openers.
Sophomore Alison Jackson made her first career start.
Ohio State has won 77-consecutive games at home against unrankedopponents
Ohio State is 66-3 at home since the start of the 2004-05 season.The Buckeyes are 93-7 all-time at home under head coach JimFoster.
Jantel Lavender grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds and recorded the14th double-double of her career with 20 points.
Lavender has scored in double-figures in all 32 career games.
Andrea Walker set a career-high with 13 points and tied a careerhigh with eight rebounds.
Ohio State shot 58.6 percent in the second half compared to just 31percent in the first.
Beth Corture, Butler head coach
On tonight’s game
“I’m real proud of my basketball team. I thought they came here and played hard you’re playing a team that’s 18th or 19th in the country. I’m disappointed in our outside shooting, but you have to give Ohio State a lot of credit. They’re a good basketball team and they have a lot of weapons.”
On the execution of tonight’s game plan
“Our game in the first half I have to give our kids a lot of credit. We only worked on our game plan for a day, or maybe a day and a half. I thought in the first half our kids stepped up and at least for the first game they did what we wanted them to do.”
Ohio State head coach Jim Foster
On the new starters
“The three players that started for the first time were impatient. They started to move the ball better as the game went on. Eventually we were able to settle down and reverse the ball to find the open look.”
On the new starters
“The three players that started for the first time were impatient. They started to move the ball better as the game went on. Eventually we were able to settle down and reverse the ball to find the open look”
On adjusting to the Butler defense
“In the first half we were making it easy for their defense by not reversing the ball. We were letting them execute their game plan. In the second half we were able to reverse the ball and make it harder for their defense”
On Jantel Lavender
“Once Jantel was able to slow down she started making her shots. She also started making better moves to the basket. She was also able to see the open looks and see better passes”
Jantel Lavender, Ohio State sophomore center
On the game
“It was the first game and there was a lot of nervous tension. Everyone was nervous and excited to play. I think we played well in the second half when everyone calmed down and we started reversing the ball.”
On Samantha Prahalis
“I think she’s a great point guard. She creates shots and I’m confident with her running the offense. She dishes the ball well, too. You always have to have your hands ready because you don’t know if she’s going to dish or shoot.”
Samantha Prahalis, Ohio State freshman guard
On her first game
“At first I was trying to make plays instead of letting the plays come to me. I think I was thinking too much out there, but I had fun. My shots were on and I hit the post.”
On playing for Ohio State
“From my first visit here, I connected with Jantel Lavender and all the other girls. Jantel runs the floor really well and I love playing with her and Andrea (Walker).”
Andrea Walker, Ohio State junior center
On the game
“I was frustrated that my lay ups weren’t going in, but once I calmed down the shots started going in. It’s frustrating when you’re not making easy lay-ups in games that you make in practice.”