CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Brittany Johnson scored 22 and Jantel Lavender added 19 to help Ohio State (No. 25 AP) beat Illinois 71-62 on Thursday night.
After a slow start, the Buckeyes (12-6, 3-3 Big Ten) built a 38-29 halftime lead behind 15 first-half points from Johnson, who hit 5-of-6 from behind the arc."I was feeling good, I thought we all came out and played hard," Johnson said. "It was just a fun game. I had some good looks because [Illinois] was doubling down."Karisma Penn added 26 points and 18 rebounds for the Illini (7-12, 2-4), who have now lost seven straight games to the Buckeyes. This marks Penn's 12th double-double of the season, which leads the Big Ten.The Illini jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the first 2:25. Lana Rukavina made two layups and Penn added a bucket of her own to put the Illini up early.Ohio State took its first lead of the game, 26-24, on a 3-pointer from Johnson with 4:03 to play, but Illinois' Blinn answered right back with a 3-pointer of her own, retaking the lead for the Illini."Brittany got great looks, took her time, and I thought, defensively, she did a great job," Ohio State coach Jim Foster said.Ohio State's Adams then hit a layup to put the Buckeyes up by one. On the next trip down the court for the Buckeyes, Johnson nailed another 3-pointer to increase their lead to 31-27 with 2:54 to play in the half. Adams' jumper with five seconds remaining in the half put the Buckeyes up 38-29.Illinois dissolved Ohio State's lead midway through the second half on a three-point play from Lydia McCully, giving Illinois the lead, 50-49, with 9:30 to play. That lead wouldn't last long as Johnson sank yet another 3-pointer to put Ohio State back on top for good.