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Lavender leads No. 3 Ohio State past UAB

Nov 18, 2009 - 3:07 AM COLUMBUS, Ohio(AP) -- Preseason All-American Jantel Lavender and No. 3 Ohio State wore down Alabama-Birmingham.

Lavender scored 21 of her 30 points in the first half and the Buckeyes beat UAB 88-55 on Tuesday night.

"Once I realized and heard how hard the other post players were breathing I was like, 'You've got to dig deep and run extremely hard every time because they were pretty winded,"' she said.

Lavender came close to outscoring the Blazers in the first half when she hit 10 of 11 field goals en route to a 43-24 advantage for the Buckeyes. She made both of her shots in the second half and added five free throws before leaving the game with 10 1/2 minutes remaining and Ohio State comfortably ahead.

"She's just a phenomenal player," UAB coach Audra Smith said. "I've got some injuries with some of those big kids and they haven't had the opportunity to really get in and condition as well as the guards. One of the things that hurt us was we weren't able to keep up with her in transition."

Brittany Johnson had 15 points and Samantha Prahalis added 13 for the Buckeyes (3-0).

Tamika Dukes led the Blazers (1-1) with 20 points and Amber Jones scored 11.

UAB was within 19-17 before the Buckeyes gradually pulled away, helped by hitting nine straight field goals in the final seven minutes before halftime.

"We played an absolutely terrific first half," Ohio State coach Jim Foster said.

Lavender was a major part of the surge. The center scored on a turnaround from 5-feet, from underneath on rebounds, on a jumper with her foot on the three-point line and off the fast break with a layup.

"It's not often you find a kid that size (6 feet 4) with the ability to run the floor in transition like she does. She finishes so well around the basket," Smith said.

The Buckeyes host West Virginia on Thursday in the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT.