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Lavender, Prahalis combo leads Bucks to blistering start

Following the Preseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament Championship last weekend, Ohio State’s women’s basketball team is looking ahead to another full slate of games in the upcoming week.

The Buckeyes play at home tonight against UNC Greensboro before playing in the Buckeye Classic this weekend at St. John Arena. As part of a two-game tournament, OSU will play IUPUI followed by either California or Southern.

The Buckeyes have dominated their opponents early in the season, winning by an average of nearly 24 points a game.

UNC Greensboro, IUPUI, California and Southern have combined for a rather pedestrian 9-7 record so far this year.

If any of them expect to compete with the Buckeyes, they will have to figure out a way to slow down OSU’s offense — a daunting task considering the Buckeyes have been scoring at will early in the season.

Through five games, they average 91 points a game, up from 69 per contest last season, and their 367 total points in the WNIT were the most in tournament history.

Junior center Jantel Lavender, who was named WNIT co-MVP with teammate Samantha Prahalis, said that it is her team’s depth that is responsible for the scoring outburst.

“[Our team] has a ton of weapons,” Lavender said. “The freshmen bring a lot of different things to the table both defensively and offensively. I love playing with a team that is so deep.”

It was depth that was on display in Sunday’s tournament finale against Oklahoma State. Including Lavender’s team-high 26 points, four of the Buckeye starters scored in double figures.

Oklahoma State head coach Kurt Budke expects the Buckeyes to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament come season’s end.

“They can hit you from many ways,” Budke said. “That is a very good team and they could definitely be in the Final Four.”

If Budke is right, OSU would make just its second Final Four appearance in the program’s 43-year history.

The Buckeyes take on UNC Greensboro tonight at 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.

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