The 15th-ranked Buckeyes (17-3, 8-1) led by as many as five in the first half but trailed 23-22 at halftime. The two teams traded baskets for the first 10 minutes of the second half, with Carmen Reynolds giving the Wolverines a 39-38 advantage with a basket at the 10:05 mark.
On the following Ohio State possession, Buckeye Star Allen rebounded a Samantha Prahalis miss and scored to give Ohio State a lead it would not relinquish.
Allen’s basket started an 8-0 run that gave Ohio State a seven-point advantage, the largest either team had held to that point, and it was the only field goal during the spurt.
Maria Moeller, Prahalis and Jantel Lavender all hit a pair of free throws to account for the scoring.
Michigan’s Courtney Boylan responded with a three-pointer then a deuce to draw the Wolverines within two, and they had a chance to tie the game on their next possession, but Ohio State’s Shavelle Little snuffed that out with a steal.
At the other end, Little set up Brittany Johnson for a three-pointer to put the Buckeyes up back five, 49-44 with 2:34 to go. They shut out the Wolverines for the rest of the game and tacked on three free throws – two by Lavender and one from Prahalis – to account for the final margin.
Lavender finished as Ohio State’s scoring leader. She had 17 points and nine rebounds. Johnson came off the bench to provide a much-needed spark with 13 points. She made 3 of 5 three-pointers. Allen chipped in with a solid all-around performance that included 11 points, seven rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Prahalis had five points, six assists and eight rebounds.
Boylan and Melinda Queen both scored 10 for Michigan (9-12, 2-8), while Reynolds, a freshman from Hilliard-Davidson High in the Columbus suburbs, finished with five points.
The game could hardly have less resembled the first meeting of the season between Ohio State and Michigan. In Columbus on Dec. 21, the Buckeyes opened the game on a 22-4 run and never looked back en route to a 70-50 victory.
This time, Michigan hung tough nearly the whole way. The Wolverines led the Buckeyes at the half for the first time since a 76-63 Michigan win during the 2000-01 season. Ohio State has won all 12 meetings since, including the last 10 under head coach Jim Foster.
An Ohio State basketball team beat Michigan for the second night in a row. The men’s teams met in Columbus on Wednesday night with the Buckeyes winning 72-54.
Foster and OSU men’s head coach Thad Matta are a combined 19-1 against the Wolverines.
The Buckeyes will next take the floor Sunday when they play host to co-second-place Indiana for a 4 p.m. tipoff that will be televised by the Big Ten Network. The Hoosiers and Michigan State both have 8-2 conference marks after winning Thursday night.