A sluggish first two minutes gave way to a masterly seven for the 18th-ranked Buckeyes, who took control of the game with a 22-0 run in the first half during which they attacked the Wolverines at both ends of the floor in front of 4,213 fans at Value City Arena in chilly Columbus.
Michigan led 4-0 with 18:03 to go when Samantha Prahalis got the Buckeyes (10-2, 1-0) on the board with a pair of free throws. Moments later, Ashlee Trebilcock tied the game with two more freebies.
On the following possession, Shavelle Little came up with a steal just past midcourt then quickly fed Prahalis, who dribbled across the three-point arc and found Lavender with a nifty no-look pass. Lavender finished the play with a layup to give the Buckeyes their first lead, just the beginning of an onslaught that was impressive at both ends of the floor.
After Michigan’s Stephany Skrba was whistled for traveling, Prahalis made a three-pointer for the right wing.
Michigan’s Carmen Reynolds missed a three-pointer, and Star Allen grabbed a defensive rebound and outletted to Prahalis, who whipped another ball to Lavender on the run and watched the sophomore finish with a layup while drawing a foul. She made the free throw to complete the three-point play, and the rout was on.
Next Prahalis had a steal at the defensive and Allen scored on a putback for the Buckeyes, who led by 10 at that point.
The Buckeyes had six steals – including two by Ann Arbor native Little, the reigning Big Ten defensive player of the year – and forced a shot clock violation during the run, which ended at the 10:30 mark when local girl Reynolds, a product of Hilliard-Davidson in the Columbus suburbs, made a three-pointer.
During the spurt, Prahalis had five points and handed out four assists, all to Lavender, who tallied nine.
Lavender finished with a game-high 28 points and added eight rebounds while Prahalis had 10 points and seven helpers.
“I think when we were pressuring them up top, (Little) did a really good job of pressuring the ball-handler,” Prahalis said. “No one really wanted to go against her. We kept getting deflections, and we just had a lot of momentum and everyone was really into it.”
Ohio State head coach Jim Foster liked what he saw.
“It was a fun game to be involved with at that point in time because it was up and down and it was what you’d like to think this game is going to evolve into,” Foster said. “Those 42-35 mud-wrestling games don’t bring people back into the bleachers.”
The rest of the first half, the Wolverines got as close as 11 on a handful of occasions but never seriously threatened the Buckeyes again.
“It was so fun,” said Trebilcock, who scored 16 points. “We were so hyped running into the locker room at halftime. It makes it so fun to be out there with your team. It didn’t matter who was out there. Everybody was on the floor. (Little) was pressuring and getting her usual steals and stuff. We were getting tips. It was just a lot of fun to play like that.
Ohio State has dominated Michigan both recently and all-time in women’s basketball, but the squad Wolverine head coach Kevin Borseth brought to Columbus appears to be better than ones of the past.
Michigan (7-5, 0-1) already defeated a pair of top 12 teams – No. 12 Vanderbilt and No. 8 Notre Dame – this season, but afterwards a sullen Borseth called the Buckeyes the best team the Wolverines have faced.
“They made baskets and took the ball away,” he said simply. “(Little) took over.”
Despite scoring just four points, Little had her usual sizable impact on the defensive end. That included three steals and a pair of rebounds along with an assist.
By his own admission, Borseth did not have much more to say, but there was probably a reason for that, such as the 22 turnovers his team committed, including 15 in the first half.
Ohio State turned those miscues into 31 points for the game, including 22 in the first 20 minutes.
The Buckeyes outscored the Wolverines 10-0 on the break.
“We have verbalized that we’re going to be different and being verbal is one thing,” Foster said. “Doing what you say you’re going to do is another. I think this team is staring to understand what they’re capable of and what we would like.”
Veronica Hicks led Michigan in scoring with 13 points.
The Buckeyes improved to 44-6 in the all-time series against the Wolverines. That includes victories in the last 11 in a row.