Many were stars for head coach Jim Foster’s Buckeyes (21-5, 12-3), who kept pace with Michigan State atop the Big Ten standings and did critical damage to their hosts’ conference title hopes.
Five different Buckeyes scored during a 13-0 run early in the second half that saw Ohio State turn a 36-34 deficit into a 47-36 lead.
Samantha Prahalis tied the score with a pull-up jumper from the right elbow, then Shavelle Little made perhaps the biggest play of the game.
The reigning Big Ten defensive player of the year picked the pocket of Emily Fox then raced to the other end for a layup that put the Buckeyes ahead and served to energize the visitors.
After Lavender made a pair of free throws, Little was at it again with another steal and fast-break layup for a six-point lead.
Next came a three-pointer from Brittany Johnson and a mid-range jumper by Alison Jackson and suddenly the Buckeyes had control of the game.
They would eventually lead by as many as 14.
The Gophers got as close as six twice the rest of the way but never recovered from the Buckeyes’ big run.
When all was said and done, Prahalis had 17 points and nine assists. Her playmaking and timely shooting kept the Buckeyes’ offense chugging all night, especially during a second half in which they scored 47 points.
Allen added 14 points and nine rebounds while helping shut down the Gopher offense in the paint.
Johnson had 12 points, all on three-pointers, and three steals, while Little added eight points and five thefts.
Then of course there was Lavender, who entered the night leading the Big Ten in scoring, rebounding and shooting percentage. The sophomore picked up two fouls in quick succession around the 12-minute mark and sat for the rest of the opening stanza.
She had 10 of her 14 points in the second half to keep alive a streak of 57 games (her entire career) scoring in double figures.
Fox led the Gophers with 18 points.
Minnesota missed a chance to sweep the season series from Ohio State, and the Buckeyes gained much-desired revenge for a 59-56 loss in Columbus on Jan. 15.
Ohio State leads the all-time series 47-10, including an 18-7 mark in Minneapolis.