COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Coming off a devastating loss and down by eight points, No. 3 Ohio State had a players-only meeting at halftime of Sunday's game with Wisconsin.
The Buckeyes obviously figured out some things.
Jantel Lavender scored 16 of her 23 points the rest of the way, helping to turn a slow start into a 70-55 victory in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
"This team has had a leadership issue. It got determined at halftime," coach Jim Foster said. "Coaches can talk until they're blue in the face. We weren't ready at 9 o'clock this morning to play this game; I had that discussion with them. But at halftime the players had a discussion. I didn't go in for a while because it was just time for them to step up."
The result was a 50-point second half in which the Buckeyes (9-1) doubled their field goal percentage to 48 percent.
In addition, they prevented Wisconsin's deliberate, patient offense from finding open shooters, and rattled the Badgers (7-2) into 11 turnovers that resulted in 15 important points.
"We had to come to a consensus with each other about who we want to be and what we want to do," said Lavender, who had 10 rebounds and three assists. "Once that was [decided], everybody was on the same page. We just knew that defense was where we needed to pick it up and everybody came out extremely hard and we got stops."
The Buckeyes, coming off an 83-67 loss at Duke (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) on Wednesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, led 2-0 and then not again until Lavender scored with 9:38 left. Brittany Johnson scored 16 points and Tayler Hill and Samantha Prahalis each added 11 for the Buckeyes, who have won 15 straight home games and 15 in a row over Wisconsin.
Prahalis, who was second in the nation at 9.8 assists a game coming in and finished with six, said the difference was definitely defense for the Buckeyes, chasing a sixth consecutive Big Ten title.
"We got more intense," she said. "Like Jantel said, we just came together and [asked], like, 'What do we want to be?' I know we lost the other night, but good teams sometimes need a wakeup call. We determined what we wanted to be and we just came out more intense."
Alyssa Karel and Teah Gant both had 10 points for the Badgers, who couldn't have asked for much more in the first half.
The game unfolded almost precisely how the Badgers wanted it to. Tiny point guard Rae Lin D'Alie dogged Prahalis wherever she went and Anya Covington muscled Lavender inside and unnerved her. At the same time, Wisconsin was patient with the ball, involving everyone and working it around until it was in the hands of an open shooter.
"That's exactly the style we want to play each game," forward Tara Steinbauer said.
The Badgers wanted to stop the Buckeyes' two big guns.
"We came in here with a game plan of trying to do the best we could to contain and keep Prahalis in front of us and make her more of a perimeter passer versus a penetrating passer," Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone said. "And our post players did a very good job on Jantel inside the first half."
Then Ohio State scored on seven of eight possessions in the second half to pull to 38-36 as Lavender finally hit double figures with the game over 25 minutes old.
The Buckeyes took their first lead since the first basket of the game when Prahalis missed a spinning shot in the lane and then raced past a Wisconsin player, tipping the ball to a teammate before it went out of bounds. Seconds later, Johnson hit a big 3 from the right foul line extended to make it 43-42.
"We were fired up, ready to go," Johnson said. "That's what we did in the second half -- we wanted it really bad."
After D'Alie hit a short jumper to put Wisconsin back on top, Lavender's follow gave the Buckeyes the lead for good. The Badgers then had turnovers on their next two possessions, both on offensive fouls, and the Buckeyes made them pay. Hill took a kickout pass from Lavender and made a 3 from the left corner, and then Sarah Shulze worked her way in for an off-balance bank shot. The Badgers missed a shot at the other end and Prahalis hit two foul shots to push the lead to 52-44.
With the lead at 55-49, the Buckeyes ran off the next 13 points to put the game out of reach.
"Our problem was the 8 minutes from the 12-minute mark to the 4-minute mark," Stone said. "During that time, we put them at the free throw line, we turned it over, we had trouble scoring. From that point in, they got to loose balls, they got to rebounds, they made some 3-point shots. It really opened some things up."