COLUMBUS, Ohio -- After shrugging aside an overmatched opponent, No. 3 Ohio State pronounced itself ready for a showdown.
Samantha Prahalis had 12 points and 10 assists to key Ohio State's lethal transition game, leading the Buckeyes to an 88-33 victory Saturday over IUPUI in the semifinals of the Buckeye Classic.Jantel Lavender added 12 points and Shavelle Little 10 as the Buckeyes substituted freely while earning a matchup with California (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) in Sunday's championship game. The Bears (3-1) beat Southern 78-47 in the first semifinal."I want to play ranked opponents," said Lavender, who had an off shooting day, hitting just 5 of 15 shots from the field. "It's a good game to see where you are as a team."Prahalis, who had her second consecutive double-double, is glad to get a crack at the Bears."Playing against a ranked team, if we win it gives us some credit," Prahalis said. "It's just like a [regular] game, you've got to play every game like it's against a ranked opponent."Clara Mitchell led IUPUI with eight points with Alyse Poindexter adding 11 rebounds. The Jaguars had never faced a team ranked so high."That's one of coach [Jim] Foster's best teams by far," IUPUI coach Shann Hart said. "They do a really good job in transition. They forced us into 29 turnovers. When they really get their defense down, they've got a good chance of being a Final Four contender."The statistical line for points off turnovers said it all: 36-3 in favor of Ohio State.All 13 players scored for the Buckeyes. The outcome was never in doubt after they erased a 6-6 tie by scoring 22 of the next 24 points.Schulze got it started with two free throws, Johnson hit a 3 and then Schulze added a 3 of her own to touch off a 10-0 run. After Julia Whitted broke the string with a basket inside, Ohio State ran off the next 12 points with six players accounting for the scoring.Prahalis hit an off-balance 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded, capping a big first half. She hit all three of her shots from the field, including both shots behind the arc, for eight points with seven assists and three rebounds in 15 minutes.Asked what his team got out of the lopsided win, Foster enumerated the benefits."We played hard and that's something that we've been talking about, [going] 40 minutes," he said. "We were in a defensive stance for 40 minutes. We know we can play well when Jantel isn't playing as well as she's capable. That's a good thing. And we know when she's not making shots, she's still going to rotate over defensively and make blocks. And Sammy [Prahalis], in the open floor when you run hard, you're going to be rewarded."Foster said Cal will offer an entirely different set of challenges. He said he was able to watch the Bears in action for a half and was impressed with their size, athleticism and their ability to drive into the lane.By the same token, he was pleased with how things turned out for his team against the Jaguars."Jantel had tough luck with some shots, we didn't shoot well from the free-throw line and we scored 88 points," Foster said. "I'm not going to complain."