<
>

Lavender's double-double puts Buckeyes closer to Big Ten title

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Ohio State center Jantel Lavender frustrated another opposing coach, an increasingly common occurrence for the talented freshman.

Lavender scored a career-high 36 points and grabbed 16 rebounds as the Buckeyes (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) moved a step closer the Big Ten title in an 87-84 victory over Penn State on Thursday night.

Lady Lions coach Coquese Washington wasn't happy after the game.

"We'll try something different next time," Washington said. "We can't guard her one-on-one, it was hard to guard her when we double-teamed her."

Ohio State coach Jim Foster said Lavender played with patience. The approach paid off as Lavender fell one rebound short of her career high and tied her best with six assists.

"I rush a lot sometimes and today I was just like, 'You know, calm down and just breathe,'" she said. "I felt it tonight. And I just knew that if I took my time the shot would be there and I would find my open teammates."

Penn State's school-record losing streak stretched to 10 games, though the Lady Lions hung close to the Buckeyes all night.

Lavender's tough, running one-hander in traffic in the lane with 1:47 left gave the Buckeyes an 85-80 lead.

But she threw away the ball on an inbounds play with 14.7 seconds left to give the Lady Lions a final shot to tie. Kamela Gissendanner's desperation 3-pointer went wide of the bucket with the clock winding down.

It wasn't the play Washington drew up during a timeout before the last possession.

"My chicken-scratch on the board may have confused them a little bit," she said.

Gissendanner, a senior, scored 25 points in her final home game. Janessa Wolff scored a career-high 16 and grabbed 10 rebounds off the bench for Penn State (13-16, 4-13).

Marscilla Packer had 18 points for Ohio State (21-7, 12-5 Big Ten) despite shooting 4-of-17. The Buckeyes, seeking a fourth straight Big Ten regular-season crown, can finish in no worse than a tie for the title if they win their regular-season finale Sunday against Northwestern.

The Buckeyes temporarily erased memories of a 69-61 overtime loss Monday to Indiana. Officials on Wednesday said there was a scoring error during the game that incorrectly gave Indiana a point for a disqualified free throw with 2:38 left in regulation.

Foster demurred when asked if Ohio State should look into the matter more given the possible ramifications for conference tournament seeding.

"We're going to work at beating Northwestern on Sunday," he said. "I'm not someone that thinks about the past too much."