Lavenders career day leads OSU to comeback championship
With the clock ticking toward zero and the game in the balance, the No. 10 Ohio State women’s basketball team had a decision to make.Needing a basket to win the Big Ten Tournament Championship, who takes the last shot for the Buckeyes?The decision wasn’t too difficult to make. Center Jantel Lavender drew a foul and nailed a pair of free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining to propel the Bucks (30-4) over Iowa (19-13) with a 66-64 victory and into the Big Ten Tournament title Sunday in Indianapolis.Lavender was firing on all cylinders against the Hawkeyes, scoring 35 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.She scored 23 of OSU’s 33 points in the second half, when the Buckeyes made a furious comeback, rallying from a 49-33 deficit to eventually tie the game at 60-60 with five minutes to play.The junior center from Cleveland, Ohio, made 14 of her 25 shot attempts and all seven attempts at the free throw line.The teams arrived at the championship bout on completely different paths.Ohio State won the regular season championship, its sixth in a row, with four games remaining on its conference slate.At 10-8, Iowa finished five games behind the Buckeyes in the final regular season standings. But the Hawkeyes beat Penn State 82-75 and upset No. 23 Michigan State 59-54 to reach the title game.It appeared they would finish off their Big Ten blindsiding when they jumped out to the 16-point advantage, but Lavender’s relentless effort in the post earned OSU its second consecutive conference tournament title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.