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Devils focus on defending Buckeyes’ dynamic duo of Lavender and Prahalis

The No.3 women’s basketball team is off to its best start in coach Jim Foster’s eight seasons with the Buckeyes.

Tonight, the Buckeyes travel to Durham, N.C., to take on No. 11 Duke in the feature game of the ACC/Big Ten challenge.

In their 8-0 start, the Buckeyes have already won the Preseason WNIT and the Buckeye Classic.

Led by junior Jantel Lavender and sophomore Samantha Prahalis, the Buckeyes are defeating opponents by an average of 27.4 points per game and average scoring just fewer than 90 points per contest.

In the Buckeyes’ most recent victory over California, both Prahalis and Lavender finished with double-doubles.

“She’s as good as there is in the open court,” coach Jim Foster said of his point guard. “She has a good sense of the game and as we grow, she starts to find her wings as well as herself.”

As for Lavender, the center recorded her 40th career double-double against the Golden Bears, the most among active Big Ten players. She, along with Prahalis, was named to the Buckeye Classic All-Tournament Team.

Ohio State will need big production from both of its stars to beat Duke.

While perennial powerhouse Duke is having a bit of a down year by its standards, the Blue Devils’ home record is impeccable. Duke has won 18 consecutive home games, its last loss coming in February of 2008.

Duke is riding a four-game win streak, in large part because of junior guard Jasmine Thomas. Thomas recorded a triple-double in Duke’s most recent victory over Marquette.

Thomas leads the high-powered Duke offense and averages more than 14 points a game.

If the Buckeyes defeat the Blue Devils, it will be their first win in the Big Ten/ACCchallenge. OSU lost its previous two matchups against North Carolina and Maryland, while Duke has posted a record of 1-1 in the first two challenges.

The teams square off at 7 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham.

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