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Ohio State claims tournament title

Chris Uhler / The Lantern

The Ohio State women’s basketball team won the Preseason National Invitational Tournament over Oklahoma State, 93-72, Sunday.

The championship game featured two of the most consistent scorers in college basketball: junior center Jantel Lavender and senior guard Andrea Riley.

Lavender has the most consecutive games scoring 10 points or more, with all 71 of her college career. Riley is second behind her with 62. While both extended their streaks, it wasn’t the two offensive wizards that stole the show at the Schottenstein Center.

Junior guard Brittany Johnson helped the Buckeyes build a nine point lead at halftime with an inspired performance.

Her 23 points, primarily from behind the 3-point line, helped a sluggish OSU offense early. She made her first five attempts and finished seven of eight on the day.

Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke gave credit to the Buckeyes after the game, including Johnson for her stellar outing.

“Ohio State obviously, that’s a great team,” Budke said. “They are definitely a team that could be in the final four besides Connecticut and Stanford. I think you’d have to put them as the next team who is ready to role. They have every piece of the puzzle that I can see.”

Like junior forward Sarah Schulze had done against Eastern Illinois and freshman guard Tayler Hill did to Bowling Green, It was Johnson’s turn to complement the Buckeyes’ dynamic duo of Lavender and Samantha Prahalis.

“Brittany made shots today,” OSU coach Jim Foster said. “We always expect her to make shots. With Jantel and Sammie, the other teams have problems and our shooters just have to be patient.”

Johnson said as each three ball fell, she became more confident. It allowed her to have her first big scoring day this season.

“I’m a lot more confident and I know that my teammates are confident in me.” Johnson said.

OSU got its usual performances from Lavender and Prahalis. Lavender finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. Prahalis did most of her scoring in the second half, putting up 16 in the final 20 minutes and 22 for the game.

Lavender, who was awarded MVP of the tournament honors, was also quick to praise Johnson.

“When Brittany is hitting shots like that it is easy to just kick it out, I had so much confidence to knock the shot down,” Lavender said. “I love when Brittany hits shots. It boosts your confidence even more when the double team is coming, you know you can kick it out to her and she is going to knock it down, especially if her feet are set.”

The No. 3 Buckeyes steamrolled the competition in the NIT, winning all four of it’s games by at least 19 points.

Foster said he was happy his team had the opportunity to participate.

“We got to use a lot of players, played very good teams and continued to get a little bit better offensively,” Foster said. “Defensively, we’re seeing a lot of looks and we will still get better defensively. They did a very good job of playing to their strengths.”

OSU will play UNC Greensboro at home Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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