The Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The high-low game has turned a low point into a high one for No. 24 Ohio State.
Jantel Lavender hit double figures for the 121st consecutive game, scoring 22 points to lead No. 24 Ohio State to an 81-67 win against No. 18 Iowa on Monday night.
Almost as important as yet another good game for Lavender – she also had eight rebounds and six assists – was the play of fellow post player Ashley Adams.
Virtually unseen for most of the year, the 6-foot-5 freshman has teamed with the 6-4 Lavender to give the Buckeyes (13-6, 4-3 Big Ten) a lethal high-low post game. Adams, who took over two games ago when senior starter Sarah Schulze went out with a knee injury, chipped in with 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
“She’s hard to guard,” said Iowa coach Lisa Bluder, who hadn’t seen Adams when the Hawkeyes drilled the Buckeyes 89-76 in Iowa City on Jan. 8. “With her size, she’s an accurate field-goal shooter. And her and Jantel do a really nice job with the high-low. It looks like they’re really looking for each other really well.”
The Buckeyes shot 72 percent from the field in the second half – including 14 of 17 (82 percent) on shots inside the arc – to turn a one-point deficit at the half into a comfortable win.
Much of that is attributable to Adams and Lavender taking turns dumping lob passes into each other, or else flipping the ball out to wide-open teammates.
“I enjoy it,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said of the high-low. “When you get two post players that can make a shot from the high post and the low post and can both pass, it’s a lot of fun.”
Brittany Johnson added 15, Tayler Hill 13 and Samantha Prahalis 10 points to go with eight assists in Ohio State’s third consecutive win.
“Ask Brittany, she’s having fun, because she’s going to be open,” Foster said. “Ask Sammy and Tayler because they can get to the basket. The court gets bigger.”
Johnson hit 5 of 9 shots – all 3-pointers – to burn the Hawkeyes when they doubled up down low on one of the posts.
“It’s definitely opening up the floor for the guards because they’re doubling down on Jantel or Ashley and they’re kicking it back out,” she said.
Kelly Krei had 15 points, Morgan Johnson 14, Kamille Wahlin 13 and Jaime Printy 12 for the Hawkeyes (15-5, 3-4), who haven’t won in Columbus in 13 years.
Kachine Alexander, who had nine points and 11 rebounds, said Ohio State’s twin towers caused all kinds of havoc.
“Definitely, especially in our zone,” she said. “It was a little harder because we weren’t really used to that. Schulze was in the last time and she usually plays on the perimeter. It gives their team a different look.”
Adams had just 17 points in Ohio State’s first 17 games; she’s had 29 in the last two.
She said it’s been a big transition from high school in Siloam Springs, Ark., to playing in the Big Ten.
“It’s way quicker,” she said. “But we have a lot of drills in practice that help with conditioning and that helps a lot of us.”
After going through curious swoon in midseason that resulted in losses in six of nine games after a 7-0 start, the Buckeyes feel as though they’ve turned a page.
“Most definitely,” Lavender said. “The three wins can definitely boost your confidence back up. I feel like we don’t want to start losing again. We just want to do everything we can to not lose. We just want to be different from how we were in the games that we lost.”