The Ohio State women’s basketball team had little trouble improving to 2-0 in Big Ten play with a 76-47 win at Illinois on Monday night.
In a matchup of players in the top two in the conference in scoring and rebounding, Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender dominated while Jenna Smith of Illinois struggled in front of 1,320 fans at Assembly Hall in Champaign.
Lavender scored 31 points on 14 for 22 shooting, improving her best-in-the-Big Ten 22.4 points per game, while Smith’s 21.5 average that was No. 2 in the league took a hit after she managed just 10 against the sixth-ranked Buckeyes (14-1). Smith, the Big Ten’s leading rebounder, had a game-high 15 caroms while Lavender had eight.
Smith got off 12 shots from the field and missed 8, while Lavender made 14 of 22.
Joining Ohio State’s center in double figures in the scoring column were guards Samantha Prahalis (14 points) and Tayler Hill (10) while Illinois native Alison Jackson added eight off the bench.
Defensively, the Buckeyes were stifling, particularly in the first half when they jumped out to a 42-18 advantage.
The Fighting Illini (8-3, 0-1) missed 19 of 26 shots in the first half, a 26.9 shooting percentage. They finished 30 for 68 (44.1 percent) overall.
For the game, Ohio State forced 26 turnovers, including 13 steals. Senior guard Shavelle Little had eight of the Buckeyes’ thefts and added five rebounds and four assists in 19 minutes off the bench.
The Buckeyes led by as many as 32 in the second half, and their victory represented No. 699 in the career of head coach Jim Foster, who can join the 700 club with a win at Northwestern on Thursday.
Karisma Penn, a highly recruited freshman forward from Shaker Heights, Ohio, was in the starting lineup for Illinois but had a game to forget. She went 0 for 6 from the field and finished with two points and five turnovers in 28 minutes.
Forward Lacey Simpson led the Fighting Illinois in scoring with 11 points.
Since being ousted from the 2008 Big Ten tournament quarterfinals by the Fighting Illini, Ohio State has won four in a row in the series with an average margin of victory of 24.0 points.