Star Allen had 21 points and 13 rebounds vs. the Hoosiers Sunday
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — It wasn’t pretty — except to Ohio State coach Jim Foster.
Star Allen scored 21 points and Jantel Lavender added 17, and each had two baskets in a 15-3 surge to end the half, to lead No. 15 Ohio State past Indiana 59-51 on Sunday.
“The pretty ones, we like them, but the games like today are the ones that develop a little character for your team,” Foster said.
The Buckeyes had 24 turnovers, hit just 2 of 9 3-pointers and went through long sluggish periods on offense. But the game looked like a masterpiece to a Buckeyes team (18-3, 9-1) which remained in first place in the Big Ten and kept alive its chase for a fifth consecutive conference crown.
Neither team could gain much headway on offense, with the defenses contesting every pass and shot.
“It’s a fight, it’s a battle. Both teams competed at a high level,” Foster said. “When you look at these games, they’re the ones that usually determine a good season from a bad one. When you lose them, you’re thinking about them in July.”
Indiana (15-5, 8-3 Big Ten) led throughout the first half and was on top by nine points before the Buckeyes took the lead for good. Lavender had five points and Allen four in the 15-3 run.
Lavender, the Big Ten’s leading scorer (21.4) and rebounder (11.0), scored the final five points in the surge on a three-point play and a perimeter jumper. Allen had started the run with two baskets.
“It was very physical, but we just had to play through it,” Allen said.
Ohio State, up 32-29 at the half, then slowly added to its lead.
Allen also had 13 rebounds and Lavender nine. Samantha Prahalis had eight points and six assists.
“Both are phenomenal post players,” Indiana coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. “We knew they have a team that was going to be great on the inside.”
Jori Davis had 15 points, Whitney Thomas 12 and Jamie Braun 10 for the Hoosiers, who had briefly led the Big Ten until a stunning 61-52 upset at Illinois a week earlier.
The Hoosiers effectively denied the ball to Lavender for the first 15 minutes, despite having to sit post player Amber Jackson who picked up two early fouls.
“They were in the key hard,” Lavender said. “That was their game plan, to stop us inside and to make us hit outside shots.”
Ohio State has won four in a row since a 59-56 home loss to Minnesota which briefly knocked it out of first place in the Big Ten.
Hanging on to a 38-35 lead, the Buckeyes picked up some breathing room when Allen scored two baskets inside. The first came off an assist from Prahalis that resulted in Allen’s 12-foot jumper. Ashlee Trebilcock then hit Allen, who was underneath the basket, with a pass, and Allen flipped the ball in from an awkward angle to make it 42-35.
The Hoosiers never got closer than six points again.
“We’re hard to guard in the post,” Foster said. “When Star gets seven offensive rebounds, that’s hard to defend against.”
Indiana scored just three points over one 9-minute span of the second half. Indiana shot just 24 percent from the field in the second half and finished at 31 percent.
“Their defense was really pressuring us,” Braun said. “It was hard to get into a rhythm.”
The Buckeyes own a 43-20 lead in the series with Indiana. They are 26-5 in Columbus and have won the last six meetings on their home court.
Trebilcock played only nine minutes in the Buckeyes’ 52-44 win at Michigan on Thursday night because of knee problems, but was in the starting lineup against Indiana and contributed five points, three rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes.
“Tonight a good team beat a good team,” Legette-Jack said. “The good thing about it is, we get to play again.”
The rematch is Feb. 22 in Bloomington, Ind.
With the win Ohio State remains in sole possession of firstplace in the Big Ten at 9-1 and improve to 18-3 overall.
The Buckeyes held Indiana to its lowest scoring output of theseason, 51 points.
The Buckeyes’ interior defense held Indiana’sleading scorer, Amber Jackson (14.4 ppg), to just two points on1-of-8 shooting. Its second-leading scorer, Whitney Thomas (12.6ppg), was held scoreless in the second half.
Ohio State is giving up just 50.0 ppg in its last six games.
Ohio State is 15-0 this season when leading at thehalf.
Ohio State trailed by nine points with 4:10 left in the first half,but went on a 15-3 run to end the half to take a 32-29 lead.
Ohio State leads the all-time series with Indiana 43-20 and 23-5 ingames played in Columbus.
The Buckeyes have won the last six meetings at Value City Arenaoverall. Indiana has not won in Columbus since Jan. 31,2002.
Ohio State has won 12 of its last 13 games overall.
Ohio State has won 72 of its last 82 Big Ten regular-season gamesand 38 of its last 40 at home.
Ohio State is 12-2 at home this season and 77-5 since the start ofthe 2004-05 season. They are 104-9 all-time at home in the Fosterera.
Head coach Jim Foster is 87-21 in Big Ten regular-season games atOhio State.
Star Allen recorded her fourth double-double of the season with aseason-high 21 points and 13 rebounds. It was the 10th of hercareer.
Allen recorded a career-high with nine free throws.
Jantel Lavender has scored in double figures in all 52 careergames, the sixth-longest active streak in Division I. She finishedwith 17 points and nine rebounds for the second-straightgame.
Lavender now 991 career points and can become the second-fastestplayer at Ohio State to score 1,000 points with nine pointsThursday against Purdue. Katie Smith was the fastest to do it at 52games, while Frani Washington did it in56.
Ohio State is 16-1 this season when they equal or make more fromthe free throw line.
Ohio State is 85-of-102 (.833) from the free throw line in its lastfive games. They were 17-of-24 Sunday.
The Buckeyes are 14-1 this season when they outrebound theopposition. Its only loss was at now-No. 4 Auburn.
Prahalis now has 125 assists on the season and is on pace to breakKim Wilburn’s Ohio State freshman record of 168 dishesset during the 2002-03 season.
Jim Foster, Ohio State head coach
On the game
“Once we spaced the floor and started to use dribble penetration, we started getting some very good looks. Also, I think we’re hard to guard at the post. Star (Allen) had seven offensive rebounds. When she is in the position she was, it’s hard to defend her.”
On the physicality of the game
“At the end of a season, the wins you remember are the ones that were a fight a battle. Both teams competed at a high level of intensity today.”
On the tempo of the game
“The tempo of the game created a lot of our opportunities in the post and on the glass. We also tried to get the ball moving before their defense was set. Our guards did a good job in the second half.”
“They were a very good basketball team last year and I thought they were capable of being an NCAA tournament team. They earned our respect last year. Jori Davis makes them better with another scoring option. They’re a more seasoned team and I think they have a nice starting five with three experienced seniors.”
Star Allen, senior forward
On the physicality of the game
“It was a very physical game, but we just had to play through it.”
On missed free throws
“I know I have to stay on my toes. I have to put that through my head. Coach Foster is always reminding me to stay on the line and on my toes. So I just have to keep doing that.”
Jantel Lavender, sophomore center
On Indiana’s early lead
“They sat in the key and made us make outside shots. We knew that was what they were going to do. So we were prepared for it.”
“I knew that Indiana was a tough team. They are good players and they have been together for a long time. They are a seasoned team and we knew they were going to play hard. I think they did well on interior defense.”
Felisha Legette-Jack, Indiana head coach
On the game
“A good team beat a good team today. The beautiful thing is that we have another opportunity to go out and improve and be successful.”
On the defensive play of the game
“Both teams are defensive oriented teams so we knew coming in it would be a struggle. I know we are in the top two or three in the league in a lot of defensive categories and I’m sure Ohio State is up there too. We just struggled on offense so we’ve got to get back to Bloomington to work on putting the ball in the hole.”
On Ohio State’s history of outstanding post players
“Coach Foster has a history of growing post players to be better than they are. He proved that with Jessica Davenport and Jantel Lavender is quickly becoming an outstanding player.”
Jamie Braun, Indiana junior guard
On Indiana’s lack of rhythm during the game
“Their defense was really pressuring me and when the point guard is having trouble getting passes off, everyone else has to work around it. We just never were in sync.”
Whitney Thomas, Indiana senior forward
On Indiana’s defense
“We have an undersized team and Ohio State has great post players and a coach who knows how to use them. We were there on defense, but they were still able to get shots off. We have a lot to work on, but we will get better.”