Lavender leads Ohio State to win
INDIANAPOLIS -- Jantel Lavender and Samantha Prahalis just keep setting records.
On Sunday, they got to share the celebration.
Lavender and Prahalis both scored 23 points, leading fifth-seeded Ohio State past second-seeded Penn State 84-70 for a record-tying third consecutive Big Ten tournament title. And the Buckeyes did it by setting a new championship game scoring record, too.
Take that doubters.
Ohio State (22-9) has rebounded from a three-game losing streak with nine wins in a row. It will now make its ninth consecutive NCAA tourney appearance, courtesy of another automatic bid by winning the league title.
"That's a three-peat,'' fans chanted before the trophy presentation.
The only other Big Ten team to win three consecutive titles in the 17-year history of the tournament was Purdue from 1998 to 2000. The Boilermakers also set the championship game scoring mark with 80 points in the '99 title game.
But Lavender and Prahalis changed all that Sunday - as they have routinely done throughout their careers.
Lavender, the four-time Big Ten player of the year, finished with 23 points, 15 rebounds and six assists - extending her NCAA record of consecutive double-figure scoring games to 133. With one more she will tie Courtney Paris' career mark for most double-digit games in a career.
Prahalis also had nine assists, moving the junior point guard within six of career tourney leader Helen Darling of Penn State.
For Penn State (24-9), it was a frustrating day.
Mia Nickson led the regular-season runner-ups with 17 points and Indy native Alex Bentley had 16 points. But after shooting 43 percent from 3-point range this season, Penn State was just 6 of 19 from beyond the arc Sunday.
Ohio State took control with an early 9-0 run and carried a 44-39 lead into the break.
In the second half, Lavender dominated.
She scored six consecutive points during one flurry, turning a five-point lead into a 55-44 cushion.
Lavender didn't stop there.
After Prahalis' steal and layup, Lavender, the trailer on a fast break, put in another layup. She followed that with a 15-foot turnaround jumper. Taylor Hill then hit a 15-footer to give Ohio State a 63-48 lead with 12:40 to go.
The Nittany Lions never got closer than nine the rest of the game.