Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009 8/9 p.m. ET
Williams Arena Minneapolis, Minn.
#20/17 Ohio State
(20-5, 11-3 Big Ten) at Minnesota (18-7, 10-4 Big Ten)

Radio/Internet – WOSU 820-AM / (Marty Bannister, Toni Roesch)
Television – Big Ten Network (Marney Gellner, Leslie Hill)

Series Information
Series Record: OSU leads, 46-10
Last meeting: 1/15/09, Minn 59-56 in Columbus
In Minneapolis: OSU leads, 17-7
Current streak: Minn-1
Last meeting in Minneapolis: 1/24/08, Minn, 79-70

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Buckeyes face two critical road games this week as they begin a four-game stretch run in the chase for a fifth-consecutive Big Ten regular-season championship.

Ohio State travels to Minneapolis, Minn., Thursday night for an 8/9 p.m. ET tip against the Golden Gophers who beat the Buckeyes, 59-56, in Columbus last month. The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network. Then on Sunday, Ohio State travels to Bloomington, Ind., for a nationally-televised game against the Hoosiers at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

The Buckeyes control their own destiny for at least a share of the conference title. They are currently tied for first with Michigan State at 11-3 with Purdue a half game back at 11-4 and the Gophers just one game behind at 10-4.

Fastbreak Points
Ohio State is currently ranked 19th in the latest RPI rankings according to and has the 27th toughest schedule in the country. Two of Ohio State’s five losses are to teams currently ranked in the AP Top 10 (No. 3 Auburn and No. 10 North Carolina) — both by single-digit margins, including one in overtime.

Ohio State leads the Big Ten in scoring (67.9), scoring defense (55.6), scoring margin (+12.3) and field goal percentage (.434) and rank either second or third in free throw percentage (.746), FG percentage defense (.353), rebounding (39.6), rebounding margin (+5.4), assists (15.2) and assist/turnover ratio (+0.86).

Sophomore center Jantel Lavender leads the Big Ten in scoring (21.2 ppg), rebounding (10.8 rpg) and FG percentage (.534) and is the only player in Division I to rank in the Top 10 in scoring and rebounding. She also leads the Big Ten with 16 games of 20 or more points.

Lavender has scored in double-figures in all 56 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. 74
   2.  Megan Frazee, Liberty 59
   3.  Morgan Warburton, Utah 58
   4.  Jantel Lavender, Ohio State 56

Lavender’s 30 career double-doubles in 56 career games is tied with Indiana senior Whitney Thomas (30) for the career lead among active Big Ten players. Lavender has a Big Ten-best 17 this season. The Buckeyes are 24-6 in her career when she gets a double-double.

Lavender also 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.

Freshman point guard Samantha Prahalis leads the Big Ten and ranks 19th nationally with 5.6 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 14 games with six or more assists.

Prahalis’ 9.9 ppg is best among all freshmen in the Big Ten and is 22nd overall among all conference players. She also is among the league leaders in steals (2.0) and assist/turnover ratio (+1.33).

Prahalis has 140 assists on the season and is 29 shy of breaking Kim Wilburn’s Ohio State freshman record of 168 assists set back in 2002-03.

Senior guard Ashlee Trebilcock is second in the Big Ten in 3FG percentage (.451) while classmate Star Allen ranks third in field goal percentage (.527). Allen also is fourth in the league in offensive rebounds with 3.0 per game. Junior Shavelle Little, the 2008 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, also is second in the conference with 2.9 steals in Big Ten games.

Ohio State has won 74 of its last 86 (.860) Big Ten regular-season games and 40 of its last 42 (.952) 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.

Head coach Jim Foster is 89-23 (.794) in Big Ten regular-season games at Ohio State.

Ohio State had its 86-consecutive game win streak against unranked teams at home snapped with its 59-56 loss to Minnesota Jan. 15. The last unranked team to win in Columbus 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.

The 20th-ranked Buckeyes have been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for 93-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 had four Big Ten Player of the Year selections the last four seasons; Jessica Davenport in 2005-07 and Jantel Lavender in 2008.

Buckeyes Notch Seventh- Consecutive 20-Win Season
Sunday’s 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 seventh in Columbus — the most of any coach at Ohio State. Last year he tied 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. As of Feb. 18, Ohio State is one of only 10 teams in Division I to win 20 or more games seven straight seasons.

Prahalis Busts Out of Slump
Rookie point guard Samantha Prahalis broke out of her shooting slump with a season-high 18 points in the win over Northwestern Feb. 15. The Commack, N.Y., native hit a season-best four 3-pointers — all in the second half — on eight attempts while also recording four assists and four steals in 27 minutes of action.

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 her 16th double-double of the season and the 29th of her career with a team-high 10 rebounds. She also added three assists in 38 minutes of play.

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 1,078 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. If Lavender continues at her 21.2 ppg pace, she will break Smith’s mark by season’s end. She needs 27 points to pass Frani Washington.
Katie Smith  1993-94 seasons (1,194)
Frani Washington 1978-79 seasons (1,104)
Jantel Lavender  2008-09 seasons (1,078)
Jessica Davenport 2004-05 seasons (1,066)

Freshman of the Year?
Rookie point guard Samantha Prahalis is making a strong case for Big Ten freshman of the year honors. The Commack, N.Y., native leads the Big Ten with 5.6 assists per game and tops all Big Ten freshmen in scoring (9.9 ppg) and steals (50), ranks third in FT percentage (.763 — minimum 2 makes per game) and is fifth in rebounding (3.2).

Last Time Against Minnesota
Ashley Ellis-Milan scored 17 points, including two tiebreaking free throws with 17.3 seconds left, leading Minnesota to a 59-56 win over No. 15 Ohio State Jan. 15 for its first win on the Buckeyes’ home court. The Golden Gophers never trailed after the 9:31 mark of the first half, although the Buckeyes pulled even twice in the second half. Minnesota was 0-23 at Ohio State entering the game. After Samantha Prahalis tied it with two free throws with 35.1 seconds left, Ellis-Milan hit three foul shots down the stretch. The Buckeyes were playing without starting point guard Shavelle Little, out with a left knee injury. Minnesota, ahead 26-20 at the half, watched as the Buckeyes pulled even with an 8-0 run fueled by Prahalis’ drives and passes into the paint for power moves by Lavender. But Katie Ohm ended that drought with a 3 for a 40-37 lead with 11:18 left — the Gophers’ seventh 3-pointer in eight attempts. Every time Ohio State made a move at the Gophers’ lead, the Gophers responded. With Minnesota ahead 54-47 and under 3 minutes left, the Buckeyes made a final run. Prahalis hit a long 3 before Star Allen drove the lane for a left-handed layup. After Fox, the shot clock ticking down, hit a 10-foot jumper, the teams traded possessions. The Buckeyes got it back with just over 48 seconds left when Fox was called for pushing off on an inbounds pass to her. Ohio State came out of a timeout and Prahalis drove the lane and was fouled, hitting both shots to tie it again. At the other end, Minnesota worked it around the perimeter before Ellis-Milan was fouled with 17.3 seconds left on a power move under the basket. She hit both shots for a 58-56 lead. The Buckeyes looked inside to Lavender but Prahalis’ pass was too high and sailed out of bounds with 5.9 seconds remaining.

OSU Tough at Home Under Foster
Since the start of the 2004-05 season, Ohio State has amassed a remarkable 79-5 record at home and a 69-4 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: 14-2
Total:   106-9

Samantha Prahalis scored 18 points and Jantel Lavender had 17 points and 10 rebounds, leading the way as the 18th-ranked Buckeyes regrouped from back-to-back losses to beat Northwestern 81-55. The Buckeyes moved back into a tie for first place with Michigan State in the conference with four games remaining. Star Allen added 13 points and Brittany Johnson 12 for the Buckeyes, who had won 13 of their last 14 games before dropping road games at Michigan State and Iowa last week. Northwestern managed just four field goals in the opening half while falling behind 39-17. The Buckeyes hit half of their 16 3-pointers and shot 47 percent from the field. Meanwhile, the Wildcats couldn’t find the hoop. They made just 19 percent (4 of 21) of their shots from the field in the first half and finished at 26 percent (15 of 57). Brittany Orban had 25 points — almost double her career high of 13 — for the Wildcats, who lost their 17th straight game to Ohio State. They have dropped nine of their last 10 games overall. Amy Jaeschke, who came in leading Northwestern in scoring (14.6), didn’t score in the first half and finished with four points in 34 minutes. This one was over early, and not just because it had a strange 11 a.m. start dictated by the Big Ten’s television network. Ahead 8-4 after the opening 4 minutes, the Buckeyes scored 14 of the next 16 points over the next 7 1/2 minutes while the Wildcats missed all four of their shots from the field and committed seven turnovers. After Orban had a four-point play to slow the surge, Ohio State ran off the next 11 points to swell the lead to 33-10. Ohio State shooting guard Ashlee Trebilcock sat out to rest an achy right knee, ending a streak of 20 straight starts. Johnson started in her place and hit an early 3 to touch off Ohio State’s first spurt.

For the complete release, stats and player bios, click the PDF above