Lavender's 30 Pace Buckeyes To Win

Jantel Lavender made 12 of 13 shots from the field while regularly outrunning the visitors from UAB in the open floor. Samantha Prahalis added 13 points and Brittany Johnson 15 for the victorious Buckeyes.

No. 3 Ohio State improved to 3-0 with an 88-55 defeat of visiting UAB at Value City Arena on Tuesday night.

The Buckeyes started slowly, finding themselves ahead only 19-17 with 12:37 to play in the first half, but they closed the stanza on an incredible role.

First they used an 11-2 run to open up some breathing room at the midway point of the half, then later dropped the hammer in the final seven minutes.

Ohio State freshman Emilee Harmon made a 15-foot jump shot with 6:57 on the clock to start a sequence that saw the Buckeyes make nine shots in a row and extend a 30-21 advantage to 53-24.

After Harmon's shot, the Buckeyes did not miss again until Maria Moeller tossed up a three-point attempt that went off the mark with 15 seconds remaining until intermission.

During that span, the Buckeyes outscored UAB 23-3 to take a 53-24 lead into the locker room.

UAB did not score a field goal in the last six minutes of the half. They went 0 for 9 and committed three turnovers as the Buckeyes extended zone pressure and pressed at times with a variety of players, including Prahalis, Moeller and freshmen Amber Stokes and Tayler Hill.

Ohio State shot 70.4 percent (19 for 27) in the first half while holding their opponent to 25.6 percent (10 for 39).

Lavender nearly outscored the Blazers by herself as she was almost unstoppable.

The junior made 10 of 11 shots from the field, including a pair of jumpers not far inside the three-point line, and tallied 21 points.

She finished the game with 30 points, six rebounds and two steals. Lavender made 6 of 9 free throws and missed just 1 of her 13 shots from the field. Often she was able to get easy baskets in transition as she was able to wear down the Blazer post players.

"Once I heard how hard the other post players were breathing I had to dig deep and run harder every time because they were pretty winded," she said. "I realized that pretty early."

Prahalis added 13 points and dished out eight assists while Moeller had five points and four helpers. Both were instrumental in pushing the ball during the late-second-half run. "I just think we were aggressive and wanted to push the ball every time, so I think it's a team thing," Prahalis said. "We just wanted to get out and run and as we got into our defense, I think that helped, too."

Topping things off was the first double-digit scoring night of the season for junior Brittany Johnson, who hit 3 of 5 field goals (including a pair of treys) and 7 of 8 free throws.

She finished with 15 points and four assists with no turnovers.

"My coaches were telling me that I did the other things so that would make my scoring flow into the game so that's what I focused on, passing the ball and finding my open teammates," she said.

The lone bright spot for the Blazers was the offensive glass.

They grabbed 18 offensive rebounds that led to 16 points, but Ohio State still won the overall battle on the boards by a 41-37 count.

"We did a good job attacking the glass and going after missed shots," UAB coach Audra Smith said. "I'm proud of that. There are a couple of little victories in here that we had."

The inability to close out defensive possessions did not get under Ohio State head coach Jim Foster's skin as much as one might expect.

"We haven't worked on it that much," he said. "There were some bad misses, which leads to awkward rebounding situations. Our guards have got to cover a little bit better low on the back line. They're in a position they're not used to being in. They've got to keep a big body off the boards."

Tamika Dukes led UAB with 20 points and eight rebounds while Amber Jones added 11 points and four assists.

Ohio State returns to action at 7 p.m. Thursday night at Value City Arena when the Buckeyes face West Virginia in the third round of the WNIT.

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