7:00 PM ET, January 5, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State isn't back to its dominant self yet. But it took a small step toward getting there.Samantha Prahalis broke out of a shooting slump with 23 points and Jantel Lavender had a career-high 22 rebounds to go with 22 points to lead the Buckeyes (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) to an 83-65 win over Indiana on Wednesday night.They had lost four of six after climbing to No. 6 in The Associated Press poll with a 7-0 start to the season."We were like a boxer and we just kept getting smacked around, just one shot after another," coach Jim Foster said of the way his team had been playing. "Finally we just got so ticked off at it we decided we were going to fight back."Prahalis made 9 of her 14 shots after missing 17 of her previous 21 over the last two games, invigorating the offense."I just shot when I was open and they happened to go in," she said.Lavender did the dirty work inside, grabbing almost ever rebound, blocking shots and having her way. Her rebound total matched the third most in Ohio State history."I was boxing out and releasing and just following the ball and it was coming into my hands," she said. "I just kept doing the same things. I tried to rebound extremely hard because my offense wasn't as great. So I had to compensate in other ways."Tayler Hill added 12 points and Amber Stokes 10 for the Buckeyes (10-4, 1-1), winner of the last six Big Ten titles.Jori Davis had 21 points and Whitney Lindsay 20 for Indiana (8-7, 2-1).It was a big breakout for Prahalis, who was coming off the worst Big Ten game of her career.In a surprising 64-51 loss at Michigan in the Big Ten opener last Thursday -- ending the Buckeyes' 14-game winning streak in the series -- Prahalis hit just 1 of 13 shots from the field and didn't have an assist in 27 frustrating minutes.She didn't start off well against Indiana, either. She had no points, no assists and five turnovers in the opening 7 minutes before finally calming down.Indiana cut into a 13-point halftime deficit with an 8-2 run to start the second half. But Prahalis hit the next basket and added a 3-pointer to end a 13-6 spurt to put the Buckeyes ahead 46-33.Foster and his players all credited defense for turning the tide."Defense -- I can't say it enough -- we're starting to understand the significance of it because offense is a selective deal," he said. "It can come and go. But if you're guarding like crazy and [have] a lot of energy going, then the game doesn't get away from you. Then when it clicks and you start making shots, now that's when you can extend the lead."The Buckeyes got a charge out of Stokes, daughter of former Ohio State star Ron Stokes. She forced turnovers and was aggressive to the hoop, helping the Buckeyes pull away in just 15 minutes on the court."When coach Foster looks down the bench and he looks at me, I know the one thing I need to do when I come in and that's play defense," she said. "My offense will come, but I know I need to pressure the ball and that'll get us fastbreaks."Both teams were sleepwalking through the early part of the game; with 8 minutes left in the half they were each 5 for 17 from the field and 0 for 5 behind the arc.The rest of the half, however, the Buckeyes hit 8 of 14 shots from the field to take the lead for good. They broke away from a 16-15 lead with 6 minutes left in the half with a 16-4 run. Six players scored in the spurt, with Prahalis and Hill each scoring four points.Lavender had 13 rebounds at the break as Ohio State controlled the boards, 29-16. Georgie Jones did her part with 10 rebounds -- finishing with 14 -- for the Hoosiers. The Buckeyes ended up winning the battle on the glass, 36-26.The Buckeyes improved to 8-1 at home. They've won 117 of their last 120 games at home against unranked opponents.And they quieted doubters who wondered if they had lost their magic touch in the Big Ten.Lavender said it was dedication to hard work that was the missing ingredient."Once we got after it defensively and we realized we were getting stops, we were getting rebounds, pushing to get fastbreaks more often, it just pumped us up a lot more," she said. "Our team realized we have to get after it defensively early so we can have more fun and get more fastbreak layups and get those trailing 3s and do those little things we did today."
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||23-63 (.365)||30-63 (.476)|
|3P Made-Attempted||3-20 (.150)||4-16 (.250)|
|FT Made-Attempted||16-23 (.696)||19-27 (.704)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||20 (0/0)||17 (0/0)|