Ohio State center Jantel Lavender spent Sunday doing her typical chores.
She scored 35 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. She picked up another award. And yes, she walked away a champion again.
Even for a three-time Big Ten player of the year, it was a big deal. Lavender capped a remarkable second-half comeback by making two free throws with 1.9 seconds left to give No. 10 Ohio State the Big Ten tourney title, 66-64 over Iowa.
“I think it was Chuck Daly who said if the two-play works, keep calling it and we’re going to the well,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. “When she’s playing like that, you know, it’s a big ladle that keeps coming out of the well. You get rewarded for it.”
Lavender was her customary self, pushing around opponents in the post early and late. Not surprisingly, she was the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player for the second time.
And it came on one of the biggest days of Lavender’s career.
She tied the tournament scoring record. Lavender needed less than 10 minutes to extend Division I’s longest active streak of consecutive double-figure scoring games to 100 and she became the third Buckeye to top 2,000 career points on the same day Ohio State (30-4) tied a school record for victories.
She helped the Buckeyes’ four seniors tie another school record with their 109th career victory and, most important, locked up the Big Ten’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Point guard Samantha Prahalis was slowed by foul trouble. The Buckeyes’ 3-point shooters struggled, going 5 of 17, and Iowa (19-13) was not intimidated.
Kamille Wahlin finished with 20 points to lead the Hawkeyes. Kelly Krei had 18 points and eight rebounds. Wahlin still had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but the shot from near midcourt just missed the rim.