The Buckeyes go for their fifth-straight win New Year’s Eve against the Wildcats in Evanston

No. 17/17 Ohio State (10-2, 1-0 Big Ten) at Northwestern (4-9, 0-2 Big Ten)
Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008 2 p.m. ET
Welsh-Ryan Arena – Evanston, Ill.

Radio/Internet: WOSU 820-AM/
Marty Bannister, Toni Roesch

Television: None

Series Information
Series Record: OSU leads, 33-15
Last meeting: 3/2/08, OSU 74-50 in Columbus
In Evanston: OSU leads 14-9
Current streak: OSU – 15

Setting The Stage
No. 17 Ohio State (10-2, 1-0 Big Ten) goes for its fifth-consecutive win at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Northwestern (4-9, 0-2 Big Ten). The Buckeyes have not played since their 70-50 victory over Michigan Dec. 21. Northwestern, meanwhile, is coming off a 66-54 loss at Michigan Dec. 28.

Fastbreak Points
Ohio State is currently ranked No. 10 in the latest installment of and have the seventh-toughest schedule in the country. Ohio State’s only two losses are to teams currently ranked in the Top 10 (Auburn, North Carolina). As a conference, the Big Ten has the third-best RPI rating and the No. 1 strength of schedule (SOS).

Ohio State leads the Big Ten in scoring (72.8 ppg) and assists (16.8 apg) and ranks second or third in scoring margin (+14.4), FG percentage (.452), FG percentage defense (.348), 3FG percentage (.378), rebounding (41.8), rebounding margin (+6.0), blocked shots (4.6) and assist/turnover ratio (0.93).

Sophomore center Jantel Lavender leads the Big Ten in scoring (22.8 ppg), rebounding (11.5 rpg) and offensive rebounds (3.5). She ranks sixth nationally in scoring and eighth in rebounding. She also leads the Big Ten with 10 20-point games this season.

Lavender has scored in double-figures in all 43 career games and has recorded a double-double in 11 of 12 games this season. She has 24 for her career and the Buckeyes are 19-5 in those games.

Lavender’s 24 career double-doubles in just 42 career games trails only Indiana senior Whitney Thomas (25) for the career lead among active Big Ten players.

Freshman point guard Samantha Prahalis leads the Big Ten and ranks 10th nationally with 6.3 assists per game. She had a season-high 13 assists in the 9-point loss to No. 2 North Carolina Dec. 3.

Prahalis’ 10.8 ppg leads all freshman in the Big Ten and is 20th overall among all conference players. She also is among the league leaders in steals and assist/turnover ratio.

Prahalis has scored in double-figures in all but five games. In those games, however, she has a total of 40 assists — an average of 8.0 per game.

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.

The 17th-ranked Buckeyes have been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for 86-consecutive weeks.

Ohio State owns the most Big Ten titles with 11. This season they are attempting to become the first team to win five in a row since the Ohio State teams from 1983-87.

Ohio State has won 85-consecutive regular-season games in Columbus against unranked opponents. The last unranked team to win in Columbus was Penn State, Feb. 3, 2002.

Ohio State has had four Big Ten Player of the Year selections the last four seasons; Jessica Davenport in 2005-07 and Jantel Lavender in 2008.

Big Ten Domination
Ohio State has won 64 of its last 73 (.876) Big Ten regular-season games and 35 of its last 36 (.972) at home. The Buckeyes won the last six games of the 2003-04 season, went 14-2 in 2004-05, 15-1 in 2006 and 2007 and went 13-5 during the expanded 18-game conference schedule last season.

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.

The weekly honor is the seventh of her young career, tying for fifth all-time in the conference records books. Kelly Mazzante of Penn State (2001-04) is the only other Big Ten player to earn seven player of the week selections in her freshman and sophomore seasons. Mazzante needed 26 weeks to accomplish the feat, while Lavender reached the mark in 23.

Scouting Northwestern
The Wildcats are in their first season under new head coach Joe McKeown who left George Washington after last season as the school’s all-time winningest coach with more than 500 victories. He is 513-183 overall in his 23rd season of coaching.

The Wildcats are 4-9 overall, but have dropped a handful of close games during their nonconference schedule, including single-digit losses to Kansas State, Missouri, Marquette, Clemson and DePaul.

Northwestern is led by All-Big Ten candidate Amy Jaeschke who ranks among the conference leaders in scoring (16.8 ppg), rebounding (10.4 rpg), blocked shots (3.1) and FG percentage (50.8). Junior guard Kristin Cartwright and sophomore guard Meshia Reed round out NU’s top scorers with 9.6 and 9.5 ppg, respectively.

The Series
The Buckeyes lead the all-time series with Northwestern, 33-15, and have won the last 15 meetings overall. Ohio State won both contests last season, 77-55 in Evanston and 74-50 in Columbus. The Cats last win in the series was Jan. 17, 1999 in Evanston.

Last Time Out
Jantel Lavender scored 28 points, including nine during that big surge, to lead No. 18 Ohio State past Michigan 70-50. It was the conference opener for both teams. Ashlee Trebilcock scored 16 points and Samantha Prahalis had 10 points and seven assists for the Buckeyes (10-2), who have won four in a row. They scored 31 points off of Michigan’s 22 turnovers. Veronica Hicks had 13 points for Michigan (7-5). Ohio State trailed 4-0 early but then reeled off 22 straight points as the Wolverines went scoreless for almost 8 1/2 minutes. Ohio State has won the last 11 games with Michigan and leads the series 44-6. Prahalis scored five points and had four assists in the 22-0 run, with Lavender hitting four field goals and a free throw for nine points. Shavelle Little, the defensive player of the year in the Big Ten a year ago, harassed Michigan’s guards while making two steals and forcing several other turnovers. The Wolverines missed all eight of their shots from the field and had nine turnovers in their 16 possessions after grabbing the quick lead. Over the same span, the Buckeyes hit 7 of 10 shots from the field and made all seven free throws. After the lengthy drought left them behind by 18 points, the Wolverines cut the deficit to as little as 11 points before Ohio State ran off 11 of the final 13 points in the half to go up 44-22. The lead never dropped below 18 points in the second half.

OSU Tough at Home Under Foster
Since the start of the 2004-05 season, Ohio State has amassed a remarkable 74-4 record at home and a 64-3 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 9-1
Total 101-8

Nearly Perfect
In the win over Delaware State Dec. 16, sophomore 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.

Making a Living at the Stripe
Ohio State has spent a lot of time this season at the free throw line. Through 12 games the Buckeyes have made more at the line than opponents have attempted. Ohio State is 180-of-244 (.738) while opponents are 120-of-171 (.702). Seven times this season Ohio State has made more FT’s than opponents have attempted.

Make More, Win More
The Buckeyes are 8-0 this season when they make more FT’s than their opponents and were 18-0 last season when accomplishing that feat. They are 2-2 this season when they make fewer from the line.

Good as Advertised
Freshman point guard Samantha Prahalis has been everything the Buckeyes have hoped for and more. Since the first game of the season, she has performed like a veteran, running Ohio State’s offense, finding the open teammate and coming up with one big shot and nifty pass after another.

She leads all Big Ten freshmen and is among the conference leaders with 10.8 ppg and also leads all conference players with 6.3 assists per game — good for 10th best in the nation. She has had four or more assists in all but one game, including a season-high 13 in the nine-point loss to No. 2 North Carolina Dec. 3. The Commack, N.Y., has failed to score in double-figures only five times this season, but has a total of 40 assists in those contests. She has hit a team-best 19 3-pointers on the season.

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. This season the Buckeyes’ non-conference opponents have a combined record of 70-39 as of Dec. 18. 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

Lavender Named Big Ten Player of the Week Nov. 18
Sophomore Jantel 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. The weekly award is her second this season and the sixth of her career, tying her for sixth on the Big Ten’s all-time chart.

Lavender Named to Women’s Wooden Award Watch List
Jantel Lavender, the reigning Big Ten co-Player of the Year as a freshman in 2008, was one of 30 players named to the Women’s Wooden Award All-America Team and Player of the Year watch list Nov. 6.

Lavender also was named to the list last year at midseason because freshman, transfers and medical redshirts are not eligible for the preseason list. She was the first Ohio State freshman to be named to the midseason list.

In mid-January, the Wooden Award Committee will release the Midseason Top 20 list, followed in March by the National Ballot, consisting of approximately 15 top players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The Women’s Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the week of the “Elite Eight” round during the NCAA Tournament.

Foster, NCAA and the Buyckeyes
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.

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.

Buckeyes Going For Fifth-Straight and 12th Overall Big Ten Title
Ohio State secured its fourth-consecutive and league-best 11th overall Big Ten title last season (co-champs with Iowa). The Buckeyes became the first Big Ten team to win four titles in a row since Iowa won four straight 18 years ago (1987-90). The Buckeyes shared two of those conference crowns with the Hawkeyes in 1987 (17-1) and 1989 (16-2). Ohio State holds the record by winning five-consecutive championships from 1983-87.

Most Consecutive Big Ten Reg. Season Titles:

Team No. Years
Ohio State 5 1983-87
Ohio State 4 2005-08
Iowa 4 1987-90

Foster Picks UP Win No. 650
Head coach Jim Foster, the ninth-winningest active coach in Division I, earned his 650th career win with an 89-53 victory over Penn State Jan. 28, 2008. In doing so, 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. He is tied for eighth all-time with 22 20-win seasons.

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. The selection was made by the USA Basketball Board of Directors.

Foster Records Ninth Consecutive 20-Win Season
The win over Iowa at home last season gave Ohio State its sixth-consecutive 20-win season. It marked the 22nd of coach Foster’s career, his ninth-consecutive overall and his sixth at OSU, tying Nancy Darsch who had six in 12 years as head coach from 1985-97. Foster has done it each year at OSU since his first season in 2002-03, including a 30-win season in 2004-05.

Two of a Kind
Jantel Lavender felt right at home as a freshman last season, due in large part to having her twin sister, Jazmine, sitting right down at the end of the team bench as a team manager. Though 46 minutes older than Jantel, Jazmine is 7 inches shorter than her twin.

You can read a read a feature story on the Lavenders at

Lavender Tabbed Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year; Buckeyes and Boilers Picked to Win Big Ten
Sophomore center Jantel Lavender was selected as the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year by the conference coaches and a panel of media members at this year’s Big Ten media days. Lavender’s Buckeyes were selected to finish first in conference by the media, while the coaches voted Purdue at the top of the preseason rankings.

Lavender became the first player in Big Ten men’s or women’s basketball history to be named conference Player of the Year as a freshman last season when she was given the nod by the conference coaches. She became the first freshman in history to lead the Big Ten in rebounding, averaging 9.7 boards per conference contest. Lavender also finished the 18-game slate with 17.8 points per contest.

Led by the sophomore center, Ohio State was selected by a panel of conference media members to earn its fifth consecutive Big Ten title. The Buckeyes were Big Ten Co-Champions in 2007-08, finishing 13-5 in conference and 22-9 overall, earning their sixth consecutive berth into the NCAA Championship. Ohio State looks to become the first team since the 1983-87 Buckeyes to win at least a share of five consecutive Big Ten titles.

The conference coaches selected Purdue to take this year’s conference title as the Boilermakers return four starters from last season, plus seniors Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton and Jodi Howell, who started for Purdue in 2006-07 but missed 2007-08 due to injury. Wisdom-Hylton was an honorable mention All-American and the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 and is a member of this year’s Preseason All-Big Ten team. Michigan State was tabbed as the No. 3 finisher in both the coaches and media polls after finishing last season with a Big Ten-best 23 wins.

Preseason All-Big Ten Team (Coaches & Media)
Jenna Smith, Jr., F, ILL
Allyssa DeHaan, Jr., C, MSU
Emily Fox, Sr., G, MINN
Jantel Lavender, So., C, OSU
Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, Sr., F, PUR

Preseason Player Of The Year (Coaches & Media)
Jantel Lavender, So., C, OSU

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.

Coming to a TV Near You
Big Ten women’s basketball teams will experience a record amount of exposure with 119 games set to be broadcast nationally during the regular season. The Big Ten Network will air 55 games on its linear channel as well as an additional 56 contests on All internet games will be streamed live and free of charge. During the 2008-09 season, Big Ten women’s basketball can also be found on CBS Sports, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. In addition, for the second time in history, all 10 games of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament will reach a live national audience. The Big Ten Network is set to broadcast the first nine games of the event, while ESPN2 will cover the championship game.

Big Ten Tourney Returns to Indy
The conference will once again return to Indianapolis for the 2009 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament. This year’s tournament will be the eighth straight and 14th overall in Indianapolis and will be held on four consecutive days beginning March 5 and ending March 8.

Up Next
Ohio State welcomes Michigan State to Value City Arena at 2 p.m. Sunday. The game will be televised by the Big Ten Network.