OSU Women Trounce Purdue 90-67

In what has been all too unfamiliar a scene this season, the Ohio State women's basketball team dominated visiting Purdue 90-67 on Thursday night at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus. Jantel Lavender led four Buckeyes who scored in double figures.

Maybe all the Ohio State women's basketball team needed to cure its ills was a trip downtown.

Playing at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus, the Buckeyes snapped a three-game losing streak by smacking Purdue 90-67.

"I like it down here," said head coach Jim Foster, whose team gave up a home game and moved up its usual start time to 6 p.m. in an effort to draw attention to the team and the venue for potential future NCAA Final Four bids. "I think this would be a great place for us to play some games. Downtown, a potential for a different audience. I think we could really grow our fanbase down here."

The Buckeyes improve to 4-0 all-time building that normally plays home to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The teams battled to a draw through the first 13 minutes before Ohio State turned up the defense and took control.

Ohio State forward Jantel Lavender broke a 22-all tie with a layup at the 6:54 mark, then center Ashley Adams forced Chelsea Jones into a miss at the other end.

Buckeye Brittany Johnson followed with a three-pointer that was answered by a Brittany Rayburn trey for Purdue with 6:10 on the clock.

From there the Buckeyes dug in and outscored the Boilermakers 17-2 leading to intermission.

Adams hit a short shot in the lane to extend the lead back to four, then Tayler Hill made it six with a pair of free throws.

The onslaught continued with a baseline jumper by Ohio State freshman Martina Ellerbe and two free throws by Samantha Prahalis that gave the Buckeyes their first 10-point lead, 35-25, with 2:13 on the clock.

After four more points by Hill and two more by Prahalis, freshman point guard Courtney Moses finally broke Purdue's scoring drought after 5:59 with a driving layup.

That came with 11 seconds on the clock, one too many for visiting head coach Sharon Versyp's liking.

Prahalis took the ball across halfcourt and found Johnson wide open for a trey she buried at the buzzer from about 30 feet.

That gave the Buckeyes a 44-27 halftime lead.

Hill was in the middle of the action at both ends, scoring eight points and grabbing two steals.

Prahalis had eight points and six assists along with a pair of steals.

Lavender led the way with 12 points and Johnson added eight.

Ohio State (14-9, 5-6) dominated with points off turnovers and at the free throw line.

The Boilermakers (16-9, 6-6) attempted zero free throws while the Buckeyes, who spent nearly half the opening 20 minutes in the bonus, went 12 for 15.

The Buckeyes were the aggressor at both ends as they forced 13 turnovers that led to 14 points.

"I thought our defense started to make a difference and then on offense our ball reversal started to kick in and we did some good things," Foster said.

Nothing got much better for the Boilermakers in the second half.

They trailed by as many as 30 points at one point and ended up with nearly as many turnovers (22) as field goals (23).

Lavender led all scorers with 21 points, leaving her 20 shy of matching Katie Smith's all-time record of 2,578.

Against the Boilermakers, the senior center broke Smith's record for consecutive starts by making her 125th.

"It was fun," Lavender said. "I think the most fun part of it was we played together, made the extra pass and everybody was on the same page defensively. Getting some stops, Tayler getting those few steals just built our momentum. It was exciting and fun when we started making runs."

Prahalis finished with 12 points and 12 assists while Hill and Johnson added 17 points apiece. Adams had 10.

"I think we got a lot of runouts because of our defense and rebounding," Prahalis said. "Brittany was spotting up, Tayler attacked - it was just flowing like we used to do. I think defense was key to get us going."

As the Buckeyes scuffled through January and into February, Foster constantly called for his team to pick up its effort on the defensive end.

They turned in their best performance since an 81-67 shellacking of Iowa on Jan. 24, but knowing this is not the first time the Buckeyes looked like they could be ready to turn a corner, Foster turned an eye toward their next game.

Sunday they travel to Minnesota to take on a Golden Gophers squad that has hovered near the bottom of the standings most of the season, and the Buckeyes cannot afford a letdown.

"We're about to find out how mature we are," he said. "We've worked through some stuff. We're all on the same page. There are still a few wrinkles we can get better at. I'll come back again and say ball reversal is essential for this team. When it moves, we become very difficult to play against. When it doesn't move we guard ourselves as well as the other team guarding us."

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