Buckeye Women Knock Off Oklahoma

The Ohio State women's basketball team passed its first test against a ranked team this season by downing No. 11 Oklahoma 95-84 on Sunday night in Columbus. Samantha Prahalis handed out 15 assists while Jantel Lavender scored 32 points for the Buckeyes in head coach Jim Foster's 1,000th game on the bench.

All five of Buckeye head coach Jim Foster's starters hit double figures in scoring, helping offset a huge night by one Sooner freshman.

"At the end of the game we did the things we needed to do at both ends of the floor," said Foster, who coached his 1,000th college game. "I thought we took care of the ball, got some timely rebounds and found the right people and made good decisions. At the other end of the floor, we were much better at identifying and making their shots more difficult."

In the first half, No. 6 Ohio State (7-0) built an early 12-4 lead it had expanded to 12 points, 27-15, by the time Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale called timeout with 11:52 on the clock and the Buckeyes on a 7-0 run.

The Sooners (7-1) responded with a jumper by Aaryn Ellenberg that touched off an 11-0 spurt that coincided with an Ohio State scoreless streak of nearly six minutes.

Ohio State center Jantel Lavender snapped that with a pair of free throws at the 6:17 mark that made it 29-26 Ohio State, but Ellenberg eventually tied the score at 36 with 4:10 left when she made her fourth three-pointer of the half.

Buckeye Brittany Johnson quickly answered with a trey from the right corner, and Amber Stokes followed with a driving layup, but back-to-back baskets by Ellenberg and teammate Carlee Roethlisberger made it a one-point game, 41-40, with 2:17 left.

The Buckeyes built the lead back to five by scoring the last four points of half on a pair of free throws by Lavender and a put-back layup by Johnson that made it 45-40 OSU at the break.

Ellenberg, a 5-7 freshman from Las Vegas, led all scorers with 22 points in the first half on 8 for 14 shooting.

Lavender led three Buckeyes to score in double figures in the first 20 minutes. She had 16 points while Johnson added 10 and point guard Samantha Prahalis also had 10.

In the second half, the Sooners tied the game twice, first at 60 and then at 62, but the Buckeyes pulled away in the final 11 minutes.

"We fought back valiantly after digging a hole in the beginning and had it manageable, and then we tied it up two or three times but we couldn't quite get over the hump," Coale said. "I think when Aaryn Ellenberg got her fourth foul and had to come out it began to unravel a little bit because she had been so much a part of our offensive confidence. We were really looking at her."

Ellenberg, who finished with 34 points, went to the bench at the 11:07 mark after an ill-advised foul in the backcourt, and the Buckeyes scored the nine of the next 11 points in the game.

Prahalis broke the tie with a jumper at the 10:54 mark then assisted Lavender on a layup. After a basket by Oklahoma center Joanna McFarland, Lavender scored five points in a row with an old-fashioned three-point play and a long jumper she let go just before the shot clock expired.

That gave the Buckeyes a 71-64 lead with 7:44 to go.

Oklahoma cut the lead to four on two more occasions, but that was as close as the Sooners would get.

Ohio State opened up a 12-point cushion with an 8-0 run that included a three-pointer by Johnson, a three-point play by Tayler Hill and a layup by Sarah Schulze that made it 84-72 with 3:39 left.

The Buckeyes' lead peaked at 15 when Hill made a free throw to make it 93-78 with 0:52 on the clock.

Lavender led Ohio State with 32 points. Johnson added 18 points and made 4 of 6 three-pointers, while Hill tallied 16.

Prahalis had 15 points and a career-high 15 assists to go along wiht four steals and six rebounds in 39 minutes of action.

Schulze notched 12 points and 11 rebounds. She hit 3 of 4 treys.

The Buckeyes scored a season-high 95 points and had a lot working on the offensive end. They relentlessly attacked the Sooners inside both on drives and with Lavender's post-up game, and the combination of Johnson and Schulze outside proved lethal as well.

"They're not complicated in what they do but they pose a problem because it's really hard to mano-a-mano Lavender and then that creates a trickle-down that leads to a disadvantage," Coale said.

Ellenberg sat for almost five minutes of game action after picking up her fourth foul. She scored five points after returning and fouled out with 37 seconds left in the game.

She was one of three Sooners to foul out, joining McFarland and Danielle Robinson.

"We work hard on our skills and I think our guards' skills have improved as a result," said Foster, whose team made 19 of 26 foul shots compared to 8 of 9 for the visitors. "They're able to negotiate situations that put them in a position to be fouled, and we spend a lot of time and effort talking about not fouling and not doing silly things. I think we do a pretty good job on that and tonight would be another indication of that."

Roethlisberger, a native of Findlay, Ohio, had 18 points and 10 rebounds while Robinson added 19 for Oklahoma.

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