Lavender leads No. 7 Buckeyes to 74-62 win
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—Ohio State sure didn’t look tired after playing its starters for all but a combined 38 minutes in its first two games, even though they were 48 hours apart.
The No. 7 Buckeyes got 26 points from Jantel Lavender and three others in double figures on Sunday, allowing them to pull away from pesky Eastern Michigan for a 74-62 win.
Ohio State (2-0) is learning to cope without point guard Samantha Prahalis, who sat the second of a three-game suspension for secondary NCAA violations. She has started 71 games the past two seasons.
Also absent were three other players because of injuries or illness, and Ohio State coach Jim Foster went to his young bench for only 10 minutes during an 84-75 win at Temple on Friday.
On Sunday, the Buckeyes opened a 13-point lead in the first half, saw the Eagles tie the score at 28 on the first basket of the second half and led by only five with 9 minutes left.
“The whole team seemed a little tired,” Eastern Michigan coach AnnMarie Gilbert said of the Buckeyes.
Foster disagreed and used the stat sheet to make his case.
“My response would be tired teams don’t shoot 60 percent from the field,” he said. “Tired teams don’t shoot 89 percent from the foul line. End of discussion.”
The Buckeyes made 18 of 30 from the field and eight of nine free throws in the second half while hitting 54 percent of their field goals for the game.
When it was suggested that his club may have started flat, Foster bristled.
“I don’t know why the word flat would even come into the conversation,” he said. “We had four people in double figures. We had 42 rebounds to the other team’s 34. We shoot 53 percent and change from the field. That’s disrespectful to your opponent to say you’re flat.”
Lavender had 15 points in the second half, when Sarah Schulze had all 11 of her points. Tayler Hill, who took over as point guard for Prahalis, had 13 points and Brittany Johnson also added 11.
“My coaches and teammates have giving me a lot of support,” Hill said.
The Eagles (1-1) made only three of their first 21 shots and went 5 minutes without a basket as the Buckeyes increased a four-point advantage to 22-9.
“We could have folded right there but we didn’t,” Gilbert said.
The skid ended when De’Ja Wills came off the bench to hit a jumper with 7:09 left. Tavelyn James had 12 of her 18 points for the Eagles in the second half, and Wills had 11 off the bench.
Ohio State’s reserves contributed 28 minutes from four players and got six points by freshman Martina Ellerbe.
“I have faith in my teammates,” Schulze said. “If one of the starters is out we have girls on the bench who can do the job.”