BY MIKE PEDEN
Ohio State can almost always count on momentum when Minnesota is up on their schedule, they led the all-time series 49-10 heading in to Sunday's game at Williams Arena.
After a grueling duel, the Buckeyes chalked up win number 50 with an 83-76 victory, continuing their psychological stronghold over the Gophers.
"A lot of people were saying we are heartless when we're on the road," said Ohio State guard Tayler Hill. "We got up, we lost the lead, and then we came back."
Hill did not hesitate to respond to critics as Ohio State (15-9, 6-6) evened their conference record.
"It makes me want to kill every team we play. Any team, any player," she said.
"We're finding about our character right now. That is impacting us in a very positive way," said Ohio State head coach Jim Foster.
Senior center Jantel Lavender played her usual dominating game inside and finished with a game-high 29 points, adding nine rebounds. She became Ohio State's all-time leading scorer with a transition lay-up at the 16:28 mark in the second half, besting Katie Smith's record of 2,578 points.
To boot, Lavender broke the NCAA record for most consecutive games in double-figures, marking her 126th.
"It's a milestone in my career I won't ever forget. The reason I can score is because of my teammates and my coaches having in faith in me to be a go-to player," she said.
Although Lavender will not likely surpass Connecticut's Maya Moore for the all-time NCAA scoring record, she will present a challenge for any future Buckeye to break the school record with a few games left to pad her lead. Foster believes Lavender has not made her last collegiate impression.
"Someone that's scored double-figures every time she's walked on the court, when most defenses are working on stopping you, that speaks volumes," he said.
For most of the game, both teams essentially canceled each other out, with Minnesota (11-14, 3-9) out-rebounding Ohio State 40-32 while Ohio State forced 16 turnovers to Minnesota's seven.
While early nerves kept the Gophers from leading in the first half, they tied seven times with the Buckeyes, including the halftime break with the score 36-36.
Minnesota would tie two more times until a Jackie Voigt three-pointer gave the home team their first lead at 43-42 early in the second half, and that set the stage for a back-and-forth fight throughout the second.
Ohio State could not relax until the final minute, but the key moment was junior guard Samantha Prahalis draining a three-pointer to break a 71-71 tie with 2:18 left, bothering a young Minnesota team just enough to seal a win.
"In the last three minutes of the game, we did not have an answer for Tayler Hill penetrating to the basket," said Minnesota head coach Pam Borton.
Hill, the all-time leading high school scorer in Minnesota history, flashed a few moves she was known for while playing at Minneapolis South. Hill scored 19 points for the game and sank eight free throws in the final 3:07.
"We're one of the only teams on a daily basis that works on free throws," she said. "It was just like practice."
The stamina Hill developed playing almost every minute at South also proved useful, as she played all 40 minutes against Minnesota.
Although Hill can log large blocks of time, the adversity facing Ohio State this year is an obstacle she never faced at South, even as her high school rival, Minnesota guard Kiara Buford, won two state championships against Hill's old South team.
"In high school, I wasn't challenged every day. The competition wasn't there," she said. "In practice, there's drills we do called 'and two.' No breaks. Time and time up and down the court."
Buford led Minnesota in scoring with 23 points and made her last 10 free throws after missing her first four.
"I promised myself after that fourth one that I wasn't going to miss any more," she said.
Team chemistry is also no longer missing for the Gophers, even though expectations may not be high when the Big Ten tournament begins. That did not make Borton any less proud for her team's fight against the Buckeyes.
"We have figured out the ingredients to win basketball games," she said.
Programs available for DVD purchase
Autism: The Wall That Knows No Limits - Award-winning documentary series providing insights on autism rarely seen in contemporary media. Produced by someone on the spectrum, this series is a wealth of information for anyone seeking to learn about autism.
$15 for one episode, $50 for the complete series (4 episodes)
What Are You? A Dialogue on Mixed Race - Originally a school assignment, this one-hour documentary explores a population that existed for many years but didn't get much focus until recently. This program examines how a small but growing segment of the population could shift racial and cultural identity. Screened at the 2009 Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival and will be screened at the inaugural Critical Mixed Race Studies conference at DePaul University. $15
From Vices to Verses: Featuring Voices Merging - From Vices to Verses: A New Era of Hip Hop and Action is a biannual conference held at the University of Minnesota. The goal is to promote the culture and history of hip-hop, which is often lost in the corporate mainstream representation. In this program, you'll see how the Voices Merging student group absorbed what they witnessed and how their experience will transform them as a group and as individuals. DVD copies come with 14 minutes of bonus footage not seen online or on TV. $15
Minnesota Machine: 2010 - Geared for Greatness - Join the professional women's football team in their historic 2nd season. Despite several injuries that depleted the roster, the Machine finished 2010 with a 6-3 record and their first division title in franchise history, edging the Iowa Thunder in the Midwest Division of the American Conference. This highlight reel includes clips from the 2010 season and their interview on the cable television show Rollin' and Tumblin' - $15
Silhouettes by RZI Couture - The inaugural breast cancer benefit fashion premiere took place in St. Paul and was met with a fabulous response. All the models were breast cancer survivors or relatives of someone affected by breast cancer and all the clothing was designed by Rosalyn Smaller, owner of RZI Couture and currently fighting breast cancer herself. The TV version features testimonials from the models and co-host Miss Georgia of KMOJ. $10 of every purchase will be donated to RZI Couture to help the breast cancer fight! $15