As usual, Jantel Lavender led the 19th-ranked Buckeyes in scoring. The sophomore center had 21 points, and freshman point guard Samantha Prahalis added 13 while pushing the tempo relentlessly. Those two staked Ohio State (16-3, 7-1) to a lead, then Ashlee Trebilcock hit a shot to help stave off a Boilermaker comeback.
The play of that trio along with Illinois’ upset of Indiana cleared the way for Ohio State to stand alone atop the conference standings. The Hoosiers, at 7-2 in Big Ten play, share second place with Michigan State.
In West Lafayette, the Buckeyes led by as many as 21 late in the first half, but the Boilermakers (13-7, 6-3) were within nine with five minutes to go.
The hosts seemed on their way to earning a shot to get closer with Ohio State scrambling on offense and the shotclock running down, but Prahalis found Trebilcock wide open on the perimeter for a three-pointer she let go just before the buzzer sounded. The ball swished through the net to stake the Buckeyes to a 58-46 advantage with 4:14 to go, and the Buckeyes’ lead never dipped below double digits again.
Trebilcock finished with 12 points and three assists. She made 2 of 3 three-pointers and 4 of 6 field goals.
In addition to her baker’s dozen points, Prahals had six assists in her first time playing at one of the Big Ten’s most intimidating venues.
A boisterous crowd of 9,180 showed up to Mackey Arena to cheer on the home squad only to watch them struggle to do anything at all offensively against the Buckeyes for the first 20 minutes.
At the 10-minute mark, Ohio State led 11-8, and the Buckeyes stretched that advantage to 20 points with a 19-2 run started by a Prahalis three-pointer with 9:21 to go in the half.
The visitors led 35-16 at the intermission, using a balanced attack to build their advantage. Eight different Buckeyes scored in the first half, led by Prahalis’ eight. Lavender pitched in six and Brittany Johnson made a pair of three-pointers off the bench to score six as well. Trebilcock had five, Shavelle Little tallied four and Star Allen, Sarah Schulze and Andrea Walker all had two apiece.
Purdue made just 5 of 18 shots in the first half and committed 14 turnovers the Buckeyes converted into 16 points.
The Boilermakers chipped away for 15 minutes in the second half, helped when Lavender went to the bench with her fourth foul at the 7:02 mark.
To that point, she had been the dominant scorer of the second half, having posted 11 markers to keep the Buckeye lead from shrinking any further.
Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton was shut out in the first half, when she played only eight minutes because of foul trouble, but finished with a team-high 16 for Purdue. Danielle Campbell added 14.