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Monday, April 22, 2024

Lady Buckeyes defend Big Ten crown

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Sometimes being the No. 1 seed can be a detriment.

You can develop complacency and allow things to go awry.

While it looked like that might happen to the defending champs in the tourney finale against Iowa, Jantel Lavender had something to say about it and her performance did all the talking.

Down by eight at halftime and by a whopping 16 with 18 minutes left in the second half, Ohio State kicked it into gear and rode the play of Lavender to a hard fought 66-64 victory over the upstart Iowa Hawkeyes, who could smell the upset and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tourney that goes along with it.

Lavender surpassed her usual impressive statistics by compiling a Big Ten Championship record of 35 points to go along with a game high 10 rebounds, and for the second year in a row, calmly sank free throws that sealed the game and the tourney title for Ohio State. But this comeback was all about defense for the Lady Buckeyes, who held the Hawkeyes to a dismal 25 percent shooting mark from the field in the second half, and chipped away at the Iowa lead behind the offensive surge of Lavender and great point guard play from Samantha Prahalis.

“We knew we simply had to make stops,” stated Lavender after the hard fought affair was over. “This is definitely a learning experience as we realize we cannot get down like this in a tournament game.”

Ohio State Coach Jim Foster was quick to respond to an obvious question after the game regarding the final play going through his star player.

“When you have a first time All-American on your team, you give her the ball if you are lucid,” claimed Foster, much to the amusement of the gathered media. “She makes me look a lot smarter than I am as a coach.”

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder was understandingly disappointed after the loss but paid the Buckeyes their due.

“They are a great team and will represent our conference well in the NCAA Tourney,” stated a visibly distraught Bluder. “We had our chance today, but I still feel our entire body of work this season should equate to a tourney bid for our team.”

Notes: Jantel Lavender, whose efforts earned her the MVP of the tourney, was supported by Tayler Hill, who had 14 points, and Samantha Prahalis, who dished out seven assists. Iowa was led by Kamille Wahlin, who dropped in 20 points and Kelly Krei, who had 18.

Ohio State tied a school record 30th win of the season in clinching the Big Ten Tourney.

Iowa wasted little time in hoisting three point shots in the tourney as they attempted a record 70 shots from beyond the arc. They also forced 18 OSU turnovers that equated to 20 points.

Total attendance for the tourney was 33,113 and 6,923 fans on average saw each game. Those numbers need to increase for this event to meet the expectations of profitability that were assured when the bidding process began to secure the event.

I question whether that will happen and wonder how long the principles involved can allow the event to be in the red.

Hopefully, we will be able to keep this great showcase of talent in downtown Indianapolis for many years to come.

Danny Bridges, who feels OSU point guard Samantha Prahalis has more moxie than any current Indiana Pacer playing that position, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or Bridgeshd@aol.com.

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