Lavender’s 22 points paces Ohio State in victory over Big East foe

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Jantel Lavender’s third double-double in as many games led Ohio State (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) past Syracuse (2-1, 0-0 Big East), 78-71, Wednesday in Value City Arena. The sophomore center from Cleveland led the Buckeyes with 22 points and added 10 rebounds for the 16th double-double of her career.

The Buckeyes built a double-digit lead early in the second half, but had to hold off Syracuse as the Orange pulled to within seven points late. Ohio State committed 21 turnovers in the game, but made up for it with nine three-pointers and its 55 percent shooting in the second half.

Buckeye guards Samantha Prahalis and Brittany Johnson added 17 and 15 points, respectively. Prahalis, playing against more than a few of her old friends and teammates from New York, started the game 0-for-6, but settled down and hit 6 of her last 7 and scored 15 of her 17 in the second half. She also added four assists and three steals and handled Syracuse’s full court pressure with ease.

The Buckeyes led 34-28 at the half and never relinquished the lead in the second half. Syracuse (2-1) narrowed a 16-point deficit to 61-54 on a layup by Erica Morrow with 6:56 left. But Johnson followed with a 3-pointer and Prahalis added a jumper, and the Orange never got closer than the final margin again.

SU’s Erica Morrow had 23 points, Chandrea Jones had 14, Juanita Ward had 11 off the bench and Vionca Murray added 10 for Syracuse.

The Buckeyes led 34-28 at the half behind 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting by Lavender and 10 points coming from Johnson. Ohio State led by as many as 10 with 5:17 left in the half when Maria Moeller’s three-pointer from the corner capped an 8-0 run.

Alison Jackson finished with eight points — all in the second half — while senior Star Allen added six points and eight rebounds.

The win moves Ohio State to 3-0, setting up a rematch at No. 20 Auburn on Sunday in Auburn, Ala. The Tigers defeated the Buckeyes last season, 67-58, in the championship game of the Buckeye Classic at St. John Arena.

Ohio State Postgame Notes

 Friday was ninth meeting between Syracuse and Ohio State. Ohio State now leads the all-time series, 9-0.
 Ohio State has won 79-consecutive games at home against unranked opponents.
 Ohio State is 68-3 at home since the start of the 2004-05 season.
 The Buckeyes are 95-7 all-time at home under head coach Jim Foster.
 Sophomore Jantel Lavender finished with a team-high 22 points and 10 rebounds, marking the 16th double-double of her career and the third in as many games this season.
 Lavender has scored in double figures in all 34 career games and has hit the 20-point plateau every game this season.
 Through three games, Lavender is shooting 68 percent from the field while averaging 23.3 points and 13.0 rebounds per game.
 Sophomore Brittany Johnson scored a career-high 15 points and hit a career-best four three-point field goals. She also doubled her personal best with four assists.
 Ohio State hit a season-high nine three-pointers for the game, tripling its total from the two previous games.
 Samantha Prahalis scored 15 of her season-high 17 points in the second half. She started the game 0-of-6 from the field and finished 6-of-13 with three 3-pointers. She also had five assists and three steals.
 Ohio State’s defense held SU’s Chandrea Jones (24.5 ppg) to 4-of-11 from the field and 10 points below her season average.

Postgame Quotes

Quentin Hillsman, Syracuse head coach
On Nicole Michael’s injury
“She took a pretty hard spill. It was a hard fought possession and she took a hard fall. I hope she’ll be ok.”

On playing Ohio State
“I respect Coach Foster so much. Seeing him growing up and as a high school coach, I just have so much respect for what he does. This is a beautiful facility and I have nothing but praise for Ohio State. It was fun being here except for the loss.”

On Brittany Johnson
“Brittany really won the game for them tonight. She shot the ball a lot more than we thought she would.”

On Syracuse’s performance and Ohio State
“We’re a young team and we came into this environment and we played well. I have to give credit to a Top 20 team who wins games. (The Buckeyes) were a well coached team tonight. They were very good in the open floor. We were hoping that they would keep pushing so that we would keep pushing”

On playing a physical game
“It was like a Big East game. It was a very, very physical game.”

Ohio State head coach Jim Foster
On Syracuse
“Syracuse is a very good team. They played a good one-on-one in the offense and good defense. This game was a good opportunity to keep working and improve.”

On tonight’s game
“On offense Syracuse played one-on-one ball, defensively they would sit in the zone. It was like playing two games. We would breakdown the offense, then go back to a 2-3 zone. We had to play with tempo. We had kids with their third college career start. To come out with a win is a very good thing.”

On Ohio State’s players
“(Alison) Jackson hit a huge three for us tonight, which shows her growth. Brittany (Johnson) played really well. Jantel (Lavender) opened up more and rushed more. They will all improve from tonight.”

On lessons taken from tonight’s game
“Tonight was about learning. This was a good team that knew what they were doing. They play against other big teams in big arenas. We had a very young team who handled tonight’s game well. With today’s generation, they have to learn from experience. As a result they will be better next time they are on the floor.”

Samantha Prahalis, Ohio State freshman guard
On the game
“I played bad the first half. I pressed a little because I know girls on Syracuse. I settled down a little bit in the second half, but I still didn’t think I played a good game. I tried too hard.”

On her performance
“I wasn’t thinking at all. I was lobbing passes and made other mistakes. They were extremely athletic so that didn’t surprise me.”

Brittany Johnson, Ohio State sophomore guard
On the game
“I needed to stay focused, especially on Jantel. When they double teamed her, I felt I did a good job of hitting shots. A lot of teams are going to double team her, so I need to make sure I can hit open shots.”

Jantel Lavender, Ohio State sophomore center
On the game
“I thought we performed well. This is going to be the same style we see Sunday against Auburn. Both teams are very athletic and press a lot. This was a great tune up for Sunday.”

On her performance
“I need to work on my passes; I rushed a lot of them tonight. I need to pick up on the double teams faster so I can find the open person. I had six turnovers tonight because of poor passing.”