NU bucks No. 24 Ohio State

Colin Becht

It may not be the same Ohio State that won or shared the past five Big Ten regular season titles, but Northwestern is still relishing a program-shaping win.

The Wildcats defeated the No. 24 Buckeyes 64-53 at Welsh-Ryan Arena Thursday night, NU’s first victory over Ohio State in the past 20 match-ups.

“We’ve finally gotten to the point where we can really hold our heads high in the Big Ten,” senior center Amy Jaeschke said. “I’m lost for words. I’m just very excited that we just beat them.”

NU (14-4, 3-2 Big Ten) fell behind 11-4 midway through the first half before embarking on a 47-20 run to take control of the game for good. During that stretch, the Buckeyes (10-6, 1-3) hit on just 8 of 42 shots.

“We’re pressing,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. “When you cross the court from defense to offense, you can’t carry that energy with you because you can’t play with that reckless intensity on offense.”

NU especially honed in on Big Ten points leader Jantel Lavender, who hit on just 2 of 12 shots in the first half. Whenever Lavender got the ball in the post, NU swarmed to her, limiting her ability to create open looks at the hoop.

“We were able to get her a little out of her comfort zone where she just stepped back a little bit,” coach Joe McKeown said. “We double-teamed certain times.”

Lavender finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, though many of those points came long after the game got out of hand. Samantha Prahalis also contributed 19 points, the only other Ohio State player with more than six points.

Foster used a baseball analogy to explain his team’s woeful 31.5 shooting percentage for the game.

“I’m a pitcher and I’ve got three pitches. I’ve got a fastball, I’ve got a killer curve, and I’ve got a pretty good slider,” he said. “And then all of a sudden, I can’t get my slider over, I can’t break my curveball in, and they start sitting on my fastball.”

Tayler Hill, Brittany Johnson and Sarah Schulze, who average a combined 28.4 points per game, scored 11 total points on Thursday and shot just 12.5 percent.

“We’ve got to be able to make shots. We’ve got to be able to get the curveball and the slider over,” Foster said. “This is perplexing.”

NU featured one of its most balanced offensive attacks of the season, with six different players contributing seven points or more. Jaeschke led her team with 15 points and 12 boards.

The Cats won the game on the glass, outrebounding the Buckeyes 51-40.

“We have many goals that we’ve set to outrebound the other team,” junior forward Brittany Orban said. “It seems like when we are able to do that, we’re able to come through with a victory.”

Orban contributed nine rebounds and 13 points, despite only attempting three shots all game. She converted on 9 of 10 free throws.

“For a player to have three shots from the field and figure out how to get 10 foul shots, that’s a tribute to her feistiness,” Foster said. “She finds a way. It’s not going to be in the pretty category, but it’s in the plus category when you look at the end of the game.”

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