Eric Beiersdorfer / Lantern photographer
With a 33-point rout of Wisconsin on Sunday, the Ohio State women’s basketball team (19-9, 10-6 Big Ten) earned the No. 5 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and a bye into the quarterfinals.
In their final regular-season game as Buckeyes, forward Sarah Schulze, center Jantel Lavender and guards Alison Jackson and Brittany Johnson, all seniors, celebrated Senior Day with an 80-47 victory against Wisconsin (15-13, 10-6 Big Ten) at the Schottenstein Center.
In the first half, Lavender’s low-post presence, as well as her midrange shooting, produced 16 points and a 22-6 Buckeye lead with 11:26 until halftime. Lavender, the leading scorer in OSU history and the leading rebounder in Big Ten history, went on to score a game-high 20 points.
The Buckeyes eventually opened up a 34-8 lead late in the first.
But offense did not come as easily for the Badgers.
With less than four minutes to play in the half, Wisconsin was shooting just 8.3 percent from the field, having made only two of its first 24 shots. The Badgers also went exactly 14 minutes between field goals made during the first half.
Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone said the Badgers’ poor shooting changed their game plan.
“Our offense affected our defense,” Stone said. “We missed 19 straight shots in the first half — there’s your game. (The Buckeyes) were able to celebrate Senior Day.”
If OSU, which led, 39-14, at halftime, hadn’t already buried Wisconsin, it finished digging the Badgers’ grave in the second half.
A 3-pointer from Johnson with just more than six minutes left to play lifted the Buckeyes’ shooting percentage to 52.1 percent and extended the lead to 70-33.
OSU coach Jim Foster cleared the bench over the final minutes of the game and rode out a comfortable win.
The Big Ten announced on Sunday night that the Buckeyes will face No. 4-seed Iowa in a Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal game at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
After Sunday’s win, Lavender said it won’t matter whom the Buckeyes play as they chase a third consecutive Big Ten Tournament title.
“We’re starting to show who we are,” she said. “We have a really strong team. We don’t want (the season) to be over.”
Foster smiled and agreed with Lavender about his team as it heads into the postseason.
“I think we’re in a very good place,” he said. “We know where we are and we know how we got here.”
The Buckeyes open Big Ten Tournament play against Iowa on Friday shortly after the conclusion of No. 1 seed Michigan State’s quarterfinal game against the winner of Thursday’s contest between No. 8 seed Northwestern and No. 9-seed Minnesota.