COLUMBUS, Ohio -- UNC Greensboro coach Lynne Agee said she and her players knew they couldn't beat No. 3 Ohio State. So they lowered their sights to taking care of the ball and competing.
In their own small way, they accomplished those goals even in a lopsided defeat.
Jantel Lavender scored 27 points and Samantha Prahalis added 13 points and 11 assists to lead the powerful Buckeyes to an 89-56 win over the Spartans on Wednesday night.
"As a coach, it's very difficult to approach a game like this," Agee said. "People can say all they want to but when you stand up in front of a team, for us to think we're going to walk in here and beat Ohio State is ridiculous, out of the question. So you walk a fine line between your team sensing from you that the game's over but we're going to try to do these things."
The Buckeyes (6-0) actually followed a similar tack, working on playing hard and playing together.
With a possible showdown game with California (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) coming up this weekend if both teams make it to the championship game of Ohio State's own Buckeye Classic, coach Jim Foster went to his bench early and often to allow everyone to play.
"It's a combination of factors," he said while pointing out that 13 players played and 12 scored for Ohio State. "Your other players have to be able to play with each other. There's no reason to embarrass people. [Plus] you've got kids who practice real hard and they deserve some time in the game. But when they go in the game, they'd better play hard."
Lavender and Prahalis, in particular, seemed in tune.
The 6-foot-4 Lavender, who stretched her double-figures scoring streak to 72 games, hit 11 of 17 shots from the field and all five free throws, adding seven rebounds and two blocks.
"You take games like this and you really learn from them," she said. "You try different defenses. We threw a lot of different things out, just getting better as a team."
Sarah Schulze added 11 points before the Buckeyes rested most of their starters. Outscoring teams by an average of 19 points in the first half, the Buckeyes led by 18 at the break and never looked back.
Amanda Leigh scored 15 points to lead the Spartans (1-3), who lost their third in a row.
The Buckeyes, with all five starters averaging in double figures, just had too much firepower for UNC Greensboro. The Buckeyes came in scoring 91 points a game and shooting better than 50 percent from the field as a team.
"Ohio State is an outstanding team, with such balance," Agee said. "Prahalis at the point is tremendous. I watched her play for years in AAU. Lavender, my goodness, is a guard in that body. She's just so agile and so strong and has such a great touch. I feel certain they'll have a tremendous year."
Lavender had 19 points by halftime as the Buckeyes built a 43-25 lead. After a slow start, Ohio State scored on 10 consecutive possessions to transform a 7-5 deficit into a 26-16 lead.
Prahalis had nine points and seven assists at the break, hitting a 15-foot fallaway bank shot at the buzzer. She said she's getting to the lane more than she did a year ago as a freshman.
"That's because we have so many threats on the court that [the other team] can't sit in the lane and help off as much," she said.
Schulze then hit two 3-pointers in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the second half as the Buckeyes ran off 15 of the first 19 points to forge a 58-29 lead.
The Spartans had not faced a ranked team since losing to then-No. 10 ranked Duke 84-39 two years ago. Ohio State was the highest-ranked opponent they had met since falling 92-57 to then-No. 1 Maryland on Dec. 29, 2006.
After committing 33 turnovers in a 75-63 loss at High Point on Saturday night, UNC Greensboro had just 21 but also had no answer to Lavender inside and the Buckeyes' rapid points in transition.
Foster said the game served its purpose.
"You look to see how hard your players play," he said. "We always talk about respecting the game. If you're going through the motions, not playing hard, not running hard, that's not [right]. There's going to be a lot of players who've played before you and a lot are going to play after you and you have to understand that."