Nov. 22, 2009
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)--Jantel Lavender scored 26 points, Brittany Johnson had a career-high 23 and Samantha Prahalis added 22 and nine assists as the Buckeyes (5-0) pushed their season scoring average to 91 points a game.
Tayler Hill chipped in with 11 points for the Buckeyes, who really made an impression on Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke.
"That's a great team. They are definitely a team that could be in the Final Four," he said. "They've got every piece of the puzzle that I can see. You go one through five and then off the bench, they've got a lot of scorers. They can get you a lot of ways--an All-American center, a great point guard."
Lavender, a preseason Associated Press All-American and a two-time Big Ten player of the year, and Prahalis, last year's top freshman in the conference and a showy point guard who never slows down, shared the tournament MVP honors.
Johnson scored 17 of Ohio State's first 20 points, almost matching her career best of 18 in the game's first 8 minutes.
"I love when Brittany hits shots," Lavender said. "It boosts your confidence even more. When the double-teams are coming, you know you can kick it out to her and she's going to knock it down."
Andrea Riley had 27 points, Tegan Cunningham 19 and Lindsey Keller 11 for the Cowgirls (3-1), who were playing their fourth straight opponent who won at least 20 games and made it into the NCAA field a year ago. Riley, who reached 2,000 career points with a 3-pointer 9 seconds after the tip, along with Cunningham joined Lavender and Prahalis on the all-tournament team.
"We were all talking in the locker room, saying, `OK, this is the No. 3 team in the country,"' said Riley, who came in fifth in the country in scoring. "We had a lot of respect for them and they really showed that they were No. 3. They played together and you could see their chemistry. They were really on point."
Ohio State's lead hovered around 10 points for several minutes until Prahalis' behind-the-back assist to Lavender put the Buckeyes ahead 57-44 at the 14-minute mark of the second half. After the Cowgirls narrowed the deficit to 60-50 on Riley's pull-up jumper, Sarah Schulze hit all three shots after she was fouled behind the arc, Lavender made a step-back 12-footer and freshman Tayler Hill had a steal and went coast to coast for the layup to put the Buckeyes up by 17.
The lead never fell below 14 points again.
Lavender overcame a slow start, dominating inside after Johnson's perimeter shooting and Prahalis' slashes through the lane all but prevented the Cowgirls from double-teaming her.
"We got her the ball and when she got it, she made them pay," Prahalis said.
The Buckeyes led 42-33 at the break. Johnson's fast start enabled the Buckeyes to forge an early lead that they never relinquished.
"We now start five players who can make a 3, and five players who can put the ball on the floor," Foster said. "We know when we go through our scouting report, we talk about, `Well, you can shade off this person a little bit, or guard this person harder.' I would like to be in on some of the discussions these other teams are having because my guess is they were shading off Brittany early. That obviously today wasn't a good thing to do."