No. 7 Ohio St. 84, Temple 75

Jantel Lavender wouldn’t let Temple spoil Jim Foster’s

homecoming.

Lavender had a career-high 37 points and 12 rebounds to lead No.

7 Ohio State to an 84-75 win over the Owls on Friday in the season

opener for both teams.

Foster grew up in Philadelphia and went to Temple. He had about

60 friends and family members in attendance, including his

mother.

”This was more difficult than most road games should be with so

many outside things,” Foster said. ”It was a good win for

us.”

Lavender made it easier for her coach, hitting 16 of her 22

shots as the Owls couldn’t stop the preseason All-America.

”Coach Foster told me to slow my game down a little bit and not

rush each shot,” Lavender said. ”My teammates helped me get a lot

of good looks.”

The Buckeyes were missing starting point guard Samantha

Prahalis, suspended for three games by the school for a secondary

NCAA rules violation. Prahalis sat out Friday and will miss a home

game against Eastern Michigan as well as a road game at LSU.

”The process began last May with her and we knew just the other

day she’d have to miss a few games,” Foster said. ”That’s all I

want to really say about it.”

Qwedia Wallace had a career-high 32 points to lead Temple, which

hit 12 of 23 3-pointers.

”The basket did feel big,” Wallace said. ”It’s frustrating

looking back that we were right in the game.”

The score was tied at 60 with 8:36 left before Ohio State used a

15-4 spurt to take control. Lavender got it started with a lay-in

and Brittany Johnson capped it with a 3-pointer with 3:30 left that

put the game away.

Tayler Hill and Johnson had 16 points each. Alison Jackson added

11.

”Tayler did a great job in her first game at the point,”

Foster said. ”Not having Sammy will help us in the long run get

other players more comfortable as the season progresses.”

The Buckeyes led by five at halftime and Temple rallied behind

its 3-point shooting to tie the game at 60 on BJ Williams’ free

throws. The Owls never had a chance to take the lead as Lavender

quickly answered.

Ohio State, which has won its last 16 season openers, is coming

off one of the best seasons in program history. The Buckeyes won a

school-record 31 games last season before falling to Mississippi

State in the second round of the NCAA tournament. They also won

their sixth straight Big Ten title.

Without Prahalis, the Buckeyes got off to a slow start –

trailing 5-0. Ohio State quickly recovered, scoring 13 of the next

15 points to take a 13-7 advantage on Sarah Schulze’s layup. After

Victoria Macaulay’s putback made it a four-point game, Jackson had

a three-point play and Johnson hit a 3-pointer to make it a

10-point lead.

The game was briefly stopped as the clock in front of the Temple

bench went out. After a brief timeout, play resumed and Lavender’s

layup made it 25-14. The Owls responded with back-to-back

3-pointers by Satoria Bell and Natasha Thames to cut their deficit

to five.

Another layup by Lavender restored the advantage to 31-22 before

Temple went on a 10-2 run to close within 33-32 on Bell’s

floater.

Ohio State held a 39-34 halftime lead as Lavender had 16 points

and eight rebounds at the break. The Buckeyes were forced to play

their starters a lot because of Prahalis’ absence. They also were

missing Amber Stokes (mononucleosis) and Amy Scullion (torn

ACL).

The Owls were coming off their seventh straight NCAA tournament

appearance. Coach Tonya Cardoza returned three starters from that

team, which lost in the second round to Connecticut by 54

points.

”Even with our scrimmages in the preseason against two top-15

teams we were one basket away from winning,” Cardoza said. ”We

just didn’t get stops on the defensive end. If we win today we’d

put ourselves on the map.”