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Buckeyes earn top seed for the fifth-straight season and will take on the winner of the 8-9 game between Penn State and Illinois

Setting the Stage
No. 12 Ohio State heads to the Big Ten tournament as the No. 1 seed for a record fifth-consecutive season. Ohio State will face the winner of No. 8 Penn State and No. 9 Illinois, who play in the third game of Thursday’s opening session. Ohio State’s quarterfinal matchup against the winner will be at 6 p.m. ET Friday in Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Big Ten Network will carry the first nine games of the tournament live. ESPN2 will carry the championship game at 5:30 p.m. ET Sunday. All OSU games can be heard on WOSU 820AM (http://www.wosu.org/) in Columbus.

Buckeye Big ten Tourney TIDBITS
Since 1995, when the Big Ten postseason tournament was reinstated, the Buckeyes are 20-13 and have lost their first game of the tournament only once.

Ohio State earned its first of five-consecutive No. 1 seeds in the tournament in 2005. It marks the first time in Big Ten history a team has captured five-straight No. 1 seeds.

Ohio State’s 2006 Big Ten Tournament title was the first in program history. The Buckeyes were the No. 2 seed that year, finishing with a 63-60 win over Purdue in the final.

Buckeyes Earn Fifth-Consecutive and 12th Overall Big Ten Title
Ohio State secured its fifth-consecutive and league-best 12th overall Big Ten title last Sunday with the 74-63 win over Penn State. The Buckeyes became the first Big Ten team to win five titles in a row since Ohio State won five in a row from 1983-87. The Buckeyes shared two of those conference crowns with the Hawkeyes in 1987 and 1989.

Most Consecutive Big Ten Reg. Season Titles:

Team No. Years
Ohio State 5 2005-09
Ohio State 5 1983-87
Iowa 4 1987-90

Ohio State’s Big Ten titles
2008-09
2007-08*
2006-07
2005-06
2004-05*
1992-93*

Buckeyes Take Home Player, Coach, Defensive and Freshman of the Year Honors
Ohio State sophomore Jantel Lavender was named Big Ten Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Head coach Jim Foster was named Coach of the Year, point guard Samantha Prahalis was named Freshman of the Year and junior Shavelle Little was named Defensive Player of the Year for the second-consecutive year. Senior Star Allen was a third team All-Big Ten selection.

Lavender earned Big Ten Player of the Year distinction by the conference coaches and media this year, after earning selection by the coaches last season. She becomes the sixth player in Big Ten women’s basketball history to earn the award in back-to-back seasons, joining former Buckeyes Tracey Hall (1986-87) and Jessica Davenport (2005-06-07). The sophomore became just the second player in conference history to complete the statistical triple crown, leading the conference in points (20.0) and rebounds (9.9) per game, as well as shooting percentage (.549) during Big Ten play. Also this season, Lavender was named Big Ten Player of the Week five times, tying her for the conference’s single-season record. Her nine career selections tie her for third on the conference’s all-time list. Lavender also earned unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten first team by the coaches and media.

Prahalis was named Freshman of the Year by the coaches and media. She becomes the second consecutive Buckeye (Lavender) to earn the honor and is the eighth player in program history to receive the nod. The Commack, N.Y., native led the Big Ten in assists throughout the season and finished the regular season with a 5.76 assists-per-game average to rank 15th among all NCAA Division I players. Prahalis led all Big Ten freshmen in scoring, averaging 10.0 points per game. She was also named to the All-Big Ten second team by the media and earned honorable mention selection by the coaches.

Foster was tabbed as the conference Coach of the Year by his peers and by a 22-member media panel. The selection is his fourth in the last five years. The 31-year coaching veteran led Ohio State to its fifth consecutive Big Ten title, a feat previously accomplished only by the 1983-87 Buckeye squads. Under his guidance, Ohio State finished the regular season with a 24-5 overall mark and ranked as high as 12th nationally.

Little is the second player in conference history to be named Defensive Player of the Year in consecutive seasons. Her award marks the Buckeyes’ third in the 10-year history of the honor. Little averaged 2.57 steals per game during the 2008-09 campaign and anchored a Buckeye defense that gave up less than 55 points per Big Ten game.

Another Buckeye recognized was senior Star Allen who was named to the third team by both the coaches and the media. Allen led the Big Ten in field goal percentage at .545 percent, was ninth in rebounding (7.5) and 19th in scoring at 10.9 per game. She scored a career-high 25 points in her final home game Sunday and just missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Allen was a second-team selection in 2006-07.

Lavender Picks Up Record-Tying Fifth Big Ten Player of the Week Honor
After Ohio State won its fifth title outright Sunday and before the Big Ten awards were announced on Monday, Lavender collected her fifth Player of the Week award this season. The sophomore dropped 21 points on 8-of-13 (.615) shooting, while also grabbing 13 boards and adding an assist and a block as Ohio State beat Wisconsin Feb. 26 to clinch at least a share of the title. Then against Penn State on Sunday, the 6-4 center scored 28 points while shooting 58 percent (11-of-19) from the field, recording 12 boards, a pair of assists and a steal in the 74-63 OSU win that gave the Buckeyes the outright conference crown. For the week, Lavender averaged 24.5 points while shooting 59.4 percent from the floor with 12.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. Her five weekly awards tie the Big Ten’s single-season record and give her nine in her career, tying her for third on the Big Ten’s all-time list.

Fastbreak Points
Sunday’s win over Penn State gave Ohio State its 800th program victory, becoming the eighth Division I program to reach the 800-win mark: Tennessee, Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion, Stephen F. Austin, James Madison, Texas and Tennessee Tech.

The Buckeyes currently have an RPI of 13 and have the 21st toughest schedule in the country according to RealtimeRPI.com.

Ohio State leads the Big Ten in scoring (68.9), scoring margin (+12.6) and field goal percentage (.442) and rank either second or third in scoring defense (56.4), free throw percentage (.753), FG percentage defense (.360), rebounding (39.3), rebounding margin (+5.2), assists (15.4) and assist/turnover ratio (+0.89).

Sophomore center Jantel Lavender leads the Big Ten in scoring (20.9 ppg), rebounding (10.7 rpg) and is second in FG percentage (.539) behind teammate Star Allen (.545). Lavender is the only player in Division I to rank in the Top 13 in scoring and rebounding. She also leads the Big Ten with 18 games of 20 or more points.

Lavender has scored in double-figures in all 60 career games. That streak currently ranks fourth in Division I among active players according to STATS, Inc.

Current consecutive games of 10+ points:

1. Robyn Fairbanks, Utah Valley St. 77
2. Megan Frazee, Liberty 63
3. Morgan Warburton, Utah 61
4. Jantel Lavender, Ohio State 60

Lavender’s 33 career double-doubles in 60 career games is the most among active Big Ten players in only her sophomore season. Lavender has a Big Ten-best 20 this season. The Buckeyes are 27-6 in her career when she gets a double-double.

Lavender now was 1,153 career points and needs 42 more to break Katie Smith’s record of 1,194 points in her first two seasons as a Buckeye.

Jantel Lavender was named to the Women’s John R. Wooden Award 2009 Midseason Top 20 candidate list Jan. 30. Lavender and UConn’s Maya Moore are the only two sophomores on the list. The Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. It is bestowed upon the nation’s best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to her university that she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. Lavender also was named to the Naismith midseason watch list Feb. 23.

Ohio State has won 42 of its last 44 (.954) Big Ten regular-season games at home and 78 of its last 90 (.866) overall. The Buckeyes won the last six games of the 2003-04 season, went 14-2 in 2004-05, 15-1 in 2006 and 2007, went 13-5 during the expanded 18-game conference schedule last season and 15-3 this year.

The 12th-ranked Buckeyes have been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for 95-consecutive weeks.

The Buckeyes are 20-1 this season when they make more free throws than their opposition and are 38-1 over the last two seasons when accomplishing that feat.

The Buckeyes finished the regular season 8-3 on the road and 7-2 in Big Ten games after going 4-5 last season in conference road games.

The Buckeyes are 19-1 this season when they outrebound the opposition. Their only loss was at now-No. 6 Auburn in overtime.

Head coach Jim Foster is 93-23 in Big Ten regular-season games at Ohio State and 176-45 overall.

Senior Star Allen set a career high with 25 points and just missed a double-double with nine rebounds in her final game at Value City Arena in last Sunday’s win over Penn State.

In her last five games, Allen has scored 91 points (18.2 ppg) and is shooting 37-of-62 (.597 percent) from the field.

Sophomore Brittany Johnson set new personal bests with 18 points and six made field goals, including two from deep in the win at Indiana Sunday. Johnson has 53 points (10.6 ppg) and 12 3-pointers in her last five games.

Freshman Samantha Prahalis dished out five more assists in the win over Penn State and now has 167 on the season. She needs one more to tie and two to break Kim Wilburn’s Ohio State freshman record of 168 assists set during the 2002-03 season.

Prahalis leads the Big Ten and ranks 15th nationally with 5.8 assists per game. She had a season-high 13 assists in the 9-point loss to then-No. 2 North Carolina Dec. 3. She has 16 games with six or more assists.

Ohio State has won 92 of its last 93 games against unranked opponents at home. The Buckeyes had their 86-consecutive game win streak against unranked teams at home snapped with its 59-56 loss to Minnesota Jan. 15, 2009. The last unranked team to win in Columbus before that was Penn State, Feb. 3, 2002.

Ohio State owns the seventh-best winning percentage (.838) and has the ninth-most wins (109) in all of women’s basketball during the last four full years.

Ohio State has had a Big Ten Player of the Year recipient in each of the last five seasons; Jessica Davenport in 2005-07 and Jantel Lavender in 2008-09.

Allen Earns Big Ten Player of the Week Honors
Senior forward Star Allen earned Big Ten player of the week honors Feb. 24 in recognition of her performance in road wins at Minnesota and Indiana. The honor is the second of her career and the first since 2007. Allen averaged 18.0 ppg, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and shot 62.5 percent from the field in the two victories.

Against the Golden Gophers, the senior tallied 14 points while shooting 67 percent (6-of-9) from the floor. She also grabbed nine rebounds and added two assists, a blocked shot and a steal in 34 minutes of play. Then at Indiana, Allen matched her career high with 22 points, including 14 in the second half. She also grabbed seven boards and recorded two assists, two steals and a block. The pair of wins helped the Buckeyes grab sole possession of first place in the Big Ten standings with a 13-3 conference record.

As Star Goes, So Go the Buckeyes
When senior Star Allen plays well, the Buckeyes almost always come out on the winning end. Here is a look at Allen’s stats in Ohio State’s 15 Big Ten wins and three losses.

Star in 15 Big Ten wins:
13.7 ppg … 8.2 rpg … 55 FG% … 72 free throw attempts

Star in 3 Big Ten losses:
4.0 ppg (15 FG attempts) … 6.3 rpg … 40 FG% … 1 FT attempt

Prahalis Named Finalist For Nancy Lieberman Award
Freshman phenom Samantha Prahalis, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, has been named one of 13 finalists for the 10th Annual Nancy Lieberman Award which recognizes the nation’s top collegiate point guard in Division I women’s basketball. Prahalis is one of the most gifted and talented point guards to come through the Big Ten in recent years. The award is a national project of the Rotary Club of Detroit honoring the nation’s top collegiate point guard in women’s Division I basketball. The criteria for the award are the floor leadership, play-making and ball-handling skills that personified Hall of Famer, Nancy Lieberman, during her career. Sportswriters from across the country have determined this final nominee list. They will select three finalists from this list and one winner at the beginning of April 2009. The announcement of the three finalists and one winner will be made during the Final Four Weekend (April 5-7, 2009).

OSU Tough at Home Under Foster
Since the start of the 2004-05 season, Ohio State has amassed a remarkable 81-5 record at home and a 71-4 record at Value City Arena (9-1 at St. John Arena, 1-0 at Nationwide Arena). The Buckeyes have posted two perfect home records under head coach Jim Foster, going 14-0 in his first year in 2002-03 and 17-0 in 2004-05.

Buckeyes at home in the Foster Era:

2002-03 14-0
2003-04 13-4
2004-05 17-0
2005-06 16-1
2006-07 16-1
2007-08 16-1
2008-09 16-2
Total 108-9

Buckeyes Notch Seventh- Consecutive 20-Win Season
The Feb. 15 win over Northwestern gave Ohio State its seventh-consecutive 20-win season. It also marked the 23rd of Coach Jim Foster’s career, his 10th-consecutive overall and his seventh in Columbus — the most of any coach at Ohio State. Last year he tied former OSU coach Nancy Darsch, who had six 20-win seasons in 12 years as head coach from 1985-97. Foster has done it each year at Ohio State since his first season in 2002-03, including a 30-win season in 2004-05.

Lavender Tops 1,000 Points in Her Sophomore Season
With her fourth field goal against Purdue Feb. 5, sophomore Jantel Lavender scored the 1,000th point of her career, becoming the second-fastest player in the history of Ohio State women’s basketball (53 games) to reach the milestone. Katie Smith (1993-96) was the fastest to do it in 52 games. Lavender is the 27th Ohio State player overall to reach the 1,000-point plateau.

Ohio State players quickest to 1,000 points:

Katie Smith 1993-94 seasons (52 games)
Jantel Lavender 2008-09 seasons (53 games)
Frani Washington 1978-79 seasons (56 games)
Jessica Davenport 2004-05 seasons (63 games)

Lavender Also Going for Best First Two-Season Total
The Cleveland native has 1,153 career points and could also set an Ohio State record for the best first two-season scoring total in program history. Katie Smith scored 1,194 points in her first two seasons, Frani Washington scored 1,104 while Jessica Davenport had 1,066. She needs 42 points to break Smith’s mark.

Katie Smith 1993-94 seasons (1,194)
Jantel Lavender 2008-09 seasons (1,153)
Frani Washington 1978-79 seasons (1,104)
Jessica Davenport 2004-05 seasons (1,066)

Making a Living at the Stripe
Ohio State has spent a lot of time this season at the free throw line and have made more than opponents have attempted. Ohio State is 414-of-550 (.753) while opponents are 290-of-403 (.720). Fourteen times this season Ohio State has made more free throws than opponents have attempted.

The Buckeyes are 20-1 this season when they make more free throws than their opponents and were 18-0 last season when accomplishing that feat = 38-1 over the last two seasons. They are 2-4 this year when they make fewer from the line. The only time Ohio State made more and lost was Jan. 15 against Minnesota when Ohio State was 20-of-22 at the line to Minnesota’s 4-of-6. However, Ohio State was outrebounded in that game, 34-21.

Fast Starts
The Buckeyes are 18-0 this season when leading at the half and 2-0 when tied (Dayton, at Indiana). The Buckeyes’ biggest halftime deficit in a win was 10 points at Nebraska before rallying for a 69-65 win Dec. 6. The Buckeyes also won at Michigan Jan. 29 after trailing at the half. Ohio State trailed by only four points at the half in losses to current Top 10 teams UNC and Auburn.

Taking the Show on the Road
Unlike last season when Ohio State featured one of its younger teams in recent years, the Buckeyes found life on the road much more enjoyable this season, despite recent setbacks at Michigan State and Iowa. After going 6-6 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten road games in 2007-08, the Buckeyes went 8-3 away from home this season and 7-2 in conference play. Their only non-conference loss away from home was at now-No. 6 Auburn in overtime Nov. 23 — a game the Buckeyes led by three in the final minute of regulation before a 3-pointer by Auburn in the final seconds sent the game into overtime.

Lavender Unstoppable at Iowa
Jantel Lavender scored Ohio State’s first 13 points in the loss at Iowa Feb. 12 and went on to score a season-high 32 while tying career bests with 15 field goals and four blocked shots. She recorded another double-double with a team-high 10 rebounds and added three assists in 38 minutes.

Ohio State Retires Tracey Hall’s No. 44 Jersey
Former Buckeye and two-time All-American Tracey (Hall) Yarbrough had her No. 44 jersey retired at halftime against Northwestern Feb. 15. She became just the second women’s basketball player at Ohio State to have her number retired after Katie Smith’s No. 30 was retired in January 2001. Hall played for the Buckeyes from 1985-88, earning first team All-America honors in her last two seasons in becoming the Big Ten’s first two-time Kodak All-American. Hall was the Big Ten freshman of the year and a second team All-Big Ten performer in 1985. She went on to claim the conference’s top honor in 1986 and ’87, while being selected first team All-Big Ten in 1986, ’87 and ’88.

Lavender Earns Fourth Big Ten POW Honor
Jantel Lavender took home her fourth Player of the Week award of the season Jan. 27 after guiding Ohio State to a pair of wins to move up to first in the Big Ten. The sophomore opened the week with a season-high 30-point performance Jan. 22 to lead the Buckeyes as they toppled Illinois, 68-51. Lavender tied her career-high with 15 field goals, shooting 62.5 percent from the floor, also grabbing 12 rebounds to record her 14th double-double of the year. On the road against Purdue Jan. 25, the Cleveland, Ohio, native scored 15 of her 21 points in a closely contested second half to give Ohio State the 71-60 victory. She shot 62.5 percent (10-of-16) from the field and had seven rebounds and two blocks in the win. On the week, Lavender averaged 25.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. The weekly honor is the eighth of her career, which ties her for fourth all-time in the conference and sets a new Big Ten record for awards won by a player in her freshman and sophomore seasons.

Lavender Named Big Ten POW for a Third Time
Jantel Lavender earned Big Ten player of the week honors for a third time this season in recognition of her performance in the wins over Delaware State (Dec. 16) and Michigan (Dec. 21). Lavender averaged 28.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and shot 78.1 percent from the field as the 17th-ranked Buckeyes improved to 10-2 and 1-0 in the Big Ten. In the 68-35 win over Delaware State Dec. 16, Lavender scored a season-high 29 points on 12-of-13 shooting (.923) tying her for the second-highest field goal percentage in school history (minimum 10 attempts). She also had four blocks and 11 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season and hit all five attempts from the free throw line. Then in the conference opener against Michigan Sunday, Lavender netted 28 points on 13-of-19 from the floor and had eight rebounds as Ohio State defeated Michigan for the 11th-straight time, 70-50.

Buckeyes Conclude Challenging Non-Conference Slate
Ohio State did not face a team in the non-conference portion of the season that recorded fewer than 18 wins last season, giving the Buckeyes one of the toughest schedule in the country this season. Below is a breakdown of the Buckeyes’ non-conference foes and their 2007-08 record:

School Record Conference Record
Butler 20-10 10-8, Horizon League
Army 18-12 9-5, Patriot League
Syracuse* 22-9 10-6, Big East
Auburn* 20-12 7-7, SEC
Hartford* 28-6 14-2, America East
Boston U 20-12 11-5, America East
Dayton 25-9 9-4, Atlantic 10
North Carolina* 33-3 14-0, ACC
Nebraska* 21-12 9-7, Big 12
Cleveland State* 19-14 10-8, Horizon

* 2008 NCAA tournament team

Nearly Perfect
In the win over Delaware State Dec. 16, Jantel Lavender was 12-of-13 from the field for a 92.3 percent clip. It tied for the second-highest FG percentage by a Buckeye since Tracey Hall shot an identical 92.3 percent (12-of-13) Nov. 29, 1984 in a win over Cincinnati. Jessica Davenport holds the Ohio State record for FG percentage (minimum 10 attempts) in a game when she shot 10-for-10 in a 73-67 win over West Virginia in the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

Lavender Named Big Ten Player of the Week Nov. 18
Lavender earned the first Big Ten player of the week honor of the season Nov. 18 after leading the Buckeyes to wins over Butler and Army. The sophomore recorded the 14th and 15th double-doubles of her career while dropping 20 or more points in each game. In OSU’s season-opener against the Bulldogs Nov. 14, Lavender recorded 20 points and a career-high 19 rebounds, also adding four blocked shots and three steals as the Buckeyes earned the 75-56 win. Versus the Black Knights Nov. 16, the Cleveland, Ohio, native shot 11-for-13 (.846) from the floor, scoring 24 of her game-high 28 points in the first half. She also grabbed 10 boards and had four blocks. On the weekend, the 6-4 center shot .621 from the floor and .667 from the free throw line to combine for 48 total points.

Lavender Named Big Ten Player of the Week … Again!
Jantel Lavender was the Big Ten player of the week once again Nov. 25, sharing the honor with Purdue’s FahKara Malone. It was Lavender’s sixth career POW award in her young career, which is tied for sixth all-time in the Big Ten. She is also tied for second at Ohio State with Nikita Lowry (6). Jessica Davenport holds the Ohio State record with 14. Lavender recorded a pair of double-doubles and two 20-point games as Ohio State defeated Syracuse and dropped a close overtime decision to No. 20 Auburn on the road. The sophomore has recorded a double-double with at least 20 points in each of her four games this season. Against Syracuse Lavender scored 22 points on .818 shooting, also grabbing 10 rebounds, dishing out two assists, swatting three blocks and recording one steal. At Auburn on Sunday, the 6-4 center netted another 20 points while grabbing 12 boards and tallying a career-high seven assists.

Buckeyes Boast Trio of McDonald’s All-Americans
Ohio State has three McDonald’s High School All-Americans on its 2008-09 roster. Jantel Lavender and Alison Jackson played in the 2007 contest in St. Louis while freshman Samantha Prahalis played in the 2008 game in Milwaukee.

Foster, NCAA and The Buckeyes
Jim Foster is no stranger to NCAA action, having advanced to the tournament 22 times in his last 24 years of coaching at St. Joseph’s (Pa.), Vanderbilt and Ohio State. In Foster’s first six seasons at Ohio State, the Buckeyes have earned No. 1 (2006), No. 2 (2005), No. 4 (2003, 2007) and No. 6 (2004, 2008) seeds in the NCAA tournament and have upped their overall appearance total to 17. Ohio State has earned at least a second-round finish in four of five seasons under Foster, including a trip to the Round of 16 in 2005.

Former Buckeye Katie Smith Wins Third Gold Medal, WNBA Finals MVP
Two-time Ohio State All-American Katie Smith had a summer to remember.

Smith was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2008 WNBA Finals after averaging more than 20 points per game in a three-game sweep of San Antonio, marking Katie’s second WNBA title in three seasons. In Game 1 Katie scored a playoff career-high 25 points and followed that up with 22 points in game two. In Game 3 Smith scored 15 of her 18 points in the second half as the Shock built an 18-point lead and cruised to its third WNBA title in six seasons.

This past August, Smith captured Olympic gold for a third time at the 2008 Games in Beijing as Team USA went 8-0, defeating their opponents by an average of 37 points to earn their fourth-consecutive gold medal.

Smith still holds eight Ohio State career records, is a seven-time WNBA All-Star and is the all-time leading scorer in the history of U.S. women’s professional basketball with more than 6,600 points.

Smith Named 2008 USA Basketball Female Athlete Of The Year
Katie Smith also has been selected the 2008 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year, USA Basketball announced Dec. 29, 2008. As such, Smith will be nominated by USA Basketball for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Committee SportsWoman of the Year.

Foster Picks Up Win No. 675
Head coach Jim Foster, the 10th-winningest active coach in Division I, earned his 675th career win in the victory over Purdue Feb. 5. Last season he became just the 13th Division I women’s basketball coach to win at least 650 games. Foster, who coached Vanderbilt to the 1993 Final Four, finished his 30th year as a collegiate coach last season with stops at St. Joseph’s (1979-91) and Vanderbilt (1992-2002) along the way. Two seasons ago, he became the 15th fastest D-I women’s coach to reach 600 wins.

Tickets On Sale Now for NCAA First and Second Rounds in Columbus
The Ohio State University is proud to be hosting the First and Second Rounds of the 2009 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on March 21 and 23 at Nationwide Arena. All-session passes are on sale now. Adult all-session tickets are available for $32.50. Student All-Session tickets are $21.50. Single session tickets go on sale March 18, 2009.

Two easy ways to order tickets:
In person at the Ohio State Athletics Ticket Office (located in SE corner of the Jerome Schottenstein Center near corner of Lane Ave. and Olentangy River Rd.) or call 1-800-GO-BUCKS.