Tar Heel Rally Trumps Buckeye Comeback

No. 2 North Carolina took a lead, absorbed No. 18 Ohio State's best shot and left Value City Arena with a 72-63 victory Wednesday night in women's basketball action from Columbus.

Jantel Lavender scored 27 points and Samantha Prahalis had 13 assists for the 18th-ranked Buckeyes (6-2), who rallied from 10 down to take a three-point lead at 52-49 with 11:56 remaining in the game.

The Tar Heels (9-0) struck back with a free throw by Rashanda McCants and a layup by Chay Shegog to tie the game at 52 with 10:51 on the clock.

Twenty-eight seconds later, Jessica Breland put the Tar Heels back in front with a layup off an offensive rebound, and North Carolina would not relinquish the lead again.

Ohio State expended tremendous energy on the defensive end while putting together a 13-0 run that turned a 47-37 deficit into a 50-47 lead, and the effects scrambling on defense and pushing the ball offensively seemed to catch up with them as they went ice cold from the floor.

After taking their three-point lead, the Buckeyes missed 12 straight shots and committed six turnovers over a span of 9:20.

All the while, North Carolina outscored them 17-0.

The Tar Heels' 2-3 zone defense had something to do with the drought as well.

"We took a gamble that they would miss some of those threes and we were fortunate to get some rebounds, too," North Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell said.

Ohio State shot less than 40 percent from the field for the game, a percentage that dropped to 31.3 percent in the second half, and the Buckeyes made just 5 of 21 three-pointers (23.8 percent).

Just missing shots was not the simple explanation OSU head coach Jim Foster preferred, however. He did not feel his team did enough to get good enough shots.

"They went zone and we didn't execute the way we need to when that happens," he said. "It's that simple."

"When they went in the zone we had a few-minute lapse," said Prahalis, who missed 10 of 13 shots, including 7 of her 8 from behind the arc. "I think we just had a lapse for a few minutes and it only takes like two minutes and the game can be flipped. I just think we need to work on zone offense, just work on executing it, and that's basically it. We can't have lapses when we play a good team because it's going to show."

Breland led all scorers with 29 points and an amazing 11-for-15 shooting night. Two of those were three-pointers, the first of which opened the scoring for the Tar Heels 1:33 into the contest and indicated to Breland that a big night might be in store.

"After I hit that I just felt like I could hit any shot on the court," she said after tying the arena record for points by an opposing player.

Helping her were point guard Ceter DeGraffenreid (14 points) and McCants (10).

Star Allen had 12 points and Ashlee Trebilcock added 10 for the Buckeyes. Lavender had a game-high 13 rebounds.

Both teams committed 25 turnovers.

Ohio State led by as many as nine in the first half but saw the visitors chip away in the final 9:48 of the opening period. North Carolina took a four-point lead into the locker room as Breland scored 21 in the half.

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