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Lavender scores 31 as Ohio State routs Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Jantel Lavender is used to having to score points against double teams.

Illinois took its chance playing one-on-one Monday night against Ohio State's 6-foot-4 center and she made them pay.

Lavender scored 21 of her 31 points in the first half and a suffocating, high-pressure Buckeyes defense sank the Illini 76-47.

"I saw the way that I was being played and I saw what was open," Lavender said. "I rarely play a game that I'm not double-teamed. ... I love playing a game where you see one on one."

Lavender was 14-for-22 from the field for Ohio State (14-1, 2-0 Big Ten) and also had eight rebounds before she headed to the bench for good with just under 10 minutes to play.

She took almost a third of the Buckeyes' 68 shots.

"I've been around a long time and I'm not dumb -- when I've got somebody like Jantel, I'm going to throw her the ball," Ohio State coach Jim Foster said.

Lacey Simpson led the Illini (8-3, 0-1) with 11 points but left the game with just over four minutes to play with a shoulder injury. Jenna Smith added 10 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.

Lavender keyed two big first-half runs for the Buckeyes that quickly erased any doubt about the game's outcome.

Illinois had taken an early 9-4 lead. But the Buckeyes answered with a 22-0 run that gave them a 26-9 lead 14 minutes into the game.

Lavender started the run with a three-pointer and scored seven of the Buckeyes' points over that 7-minute, 27-second span.

But 10 Illinois turnovers and Buckeye point guard Samantha Prahalis helped, too.

Prahalis scored seven points during the lethal run. They included a three-pointer and a breakaway layup on back-to-back possessions that stretched the Buckeyes' lead from three to seven at 16-9 and sent the Illini into a tailspin.

Illinois guard Macie Blinn ended the run with a wide-open 3-pointer with 5:57 to play in the half. But Illinois was down 26-11 and, according to Illini coach Jolette Law, all but beaten.

"I think we lost our composure," she said. "I started seeing heads drop."

Ohio State followed the first run a few minutes later with an 11-0 spurt. The Buckeyes led 42-18 at the half and 64-34 with 9:30 to play in the game.

Illinois turned the ball over 26 times on the night. Illinois hit 34 percent of its shots on the night, and just 26.9 percent in the first half.

Both, according to Law, were due to the defensive pressure by Shavelle Little. The senior guard played 19 minutes off the bench, turning in a game-high eight steals.

"To me she was a one-woman press," Law said. "She dictated on defense."

Foster said Little and the rest of his deep bench -- particularly guards like Little -- are a luxury that allow the Buckeyes to play high-pressure defense for 40 minutes.

"I think we have more of them than some other folks," he said. "We have a lot of guards that are quick and active and we're gonna use them."