Sophomore ranks among the Top 10 in both scoring and rebounding
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Through the first month of the regular season, the Buckeyes sit at 7-2 overall and ranked 18th in the national polls. Their only two setbacks came at the hands of ranked opponents: an overtime defeat on the road at Auburn and a nine-point loss to No. 2 North Carolina last week at home in a game where the Buckeyes led midway through the second half. Their seven wins have come against teams that all recorded at least 18 wins last season in Butler, Army, Syracuse, Hartford (who beat Duke earlier this season), Boston University, Dayton and Nebraska.
Ohio State is currently ranked No. 6 in the latest installment of RealtimeRPI.com and have the second-toughest schedule in the country.
A big reason for their success is the play of sophomore Jantel Lavender who, according to the latest NCAA statistical report, ranks fifth in the NCAA in rebounding with 12 per game and eighth in scoring at 22.1 per contest — both tops in the Big Ten. Lavender has recorded a double-double in every game this season, recording at least 20 points in all but one game and had a career-high 19 rebounds in the season-opener against Butler.
Last Saturday at Nebraska, Lavender helped Ohio State rally from a 12-point second-half deficit by scoring 14 of her game-high 20 points in the second half and converted a key 3-point play with under a minute to go as Ohio State pulled out the 69-65 victory.
The 2008 Big Ten co-Player of the Year as a freshman last season, Lavender has been named the Big Ten player of the week twice this year and took home Buckeye Classic MVP honors. Last week she recorded back-to-back 27-point games against Dayton and North Carolina. She is shooting just below 50 percent from the field, 72 percent from the free throw line and is averaging 2.7 assists and 1.6 blocks. Her blocked shot against UNC last week was an ESPN Sportscenter Top 10 play.
Joining her among the NCAA leaders is freshman point guard Samantha Prahalis who ranks 12th nationally with 6.2 assists per game, including a season-high 13 in the loss to UNC — the third-most by any D-I player this year. The Commack, N.Y., native has been held to single-digit scoring only three times this season, but has a total of 28 assists in those three contests. She leads all Big Ten freshman in scoring with 12.1 points per game.
The Buckeyes have the week off for final exams before hosting Cleveland State at Nationwide Arena Dec. 15 and Delaware State at Value City Arena on the 16th. Both games are set for 7 p.m.