No. 6-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes’ senior center Jantel Lavender took over the game, and the women’s basketball career rebounding record, in Friday’s 74-46 ACC-Big Ten Challenge victory over the Virginia Cavaliers .
Despite shooting 29 percent from the field in the first half, Virginia (4-4) managed to keep pace with Lavender and the prolific OSU (6-0) offense. The Cavaliers trailed early but sophomores Lexie Gerson and center Simone Egwu lead a 16-7 run, narrowing the deficit to 28-24.
“When we cut [their lead] to four, we had a shot,” Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said. “We weren’t able to sustain anything though.”
Lavender scored 14 of her game-high 23 points in the first half and helped the Buckeyes to a 12-2 run to close out the half with a 40-26 lead.
After securing 8 of her game-high 13 rebounds in the first half, Lavender broke Tracey Hall’s 22-year-old career rebounding mark of 1,115.
Lavender downplayed the milestone.
“It’s a great record, Tracey Hall was a great player,” Lavender said. “I don’t think about stuff like that, I just rebound.”
Lavender’s focus rubbed off on OSU guard Samantha Prahalis, who opened the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers and extended the Buckeyes’ lead to 46-26.
“We tried to force them to shoot [3-pointers] actually,” Ryan said. “We had to pick our poison, we knew they could finish at the rim. But we knew they could shoot too.”
Virginia remained determined, pulling to within 12 points of the Buckeyes at 51-39 with ten minutes to play, but never closer.
OSU’s balanced offense closed out the game with a 14-5 run in the final 7:35 of the contest.
“It’s important to win this game,” said Lavender, who notched her first-career ACC-Big Ten Challenge win along with her fifth double-double on the season. “I’m rooting for all the Big Ten schools in this.”
OSU coach Jim Foster was satisfied with his team’s effort.
“We did a good job on the boards, we were very good defensively,” Foster said. “We moved better, we flowed better.”
The Buckeyes return to action on Sunday when they host No. 11-ranked Oklahoma.