7:00 PM ET, November 17, 2004
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Coach Jim Foster wants Ohio State to be tested for a change. The Buckeyes certainly will be on Saturday night.Caity Matter exploited Arizona's defense by hitting four 3-pointers and scored 20 points to lead Ohio State (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) to a 78-45 victory in the semifinals of the Women's NIT on Wednesday night.The Buckeyes (3-0) advance to play at Notre Dame (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) on Saturday night in the championship game. The Fighting Irish beat No. 6 Duke 76-65 in the other semifinal on Wednesday night."I love the fact we're going there," Foster said of the trip to South Bend, Ind. "I love that we're seeing where we are. It's only Nov. 20. We couldn't ask for a better situation. We got off to a good start at home and we earned a shot to go and play for a championship in somebody else's gym."Arizona (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP) came in shooting 47 percent from the field and averaging 77.5 points but managed just 34 percent against the Buckeyes' pressure defense."The score was tied and they came out of a timeout and went to the next level of energy," Arizona coach Joan Bonvicini said.That's nothing new. In three lopsided wins at home in the tournament, the Buckeyes have won by an average score of 81-33 against teams coming off 20-win seasons."We're playing with a great deal of intensity," Foster said. "What I like is we don't stop playing hard. That might explain some of the margins. Some teams get ahead and they stop playing hard. The great teams don't."Matter hit 7-of-12 shots from the field and both of her free throws and added four assists and four rebounds."It's always nice to hit that first shot. As a shooter, you've got to keep shooting," Matter said. "After we settled down and starting running our offense we started getting good shots."Brandie Hoskins added 14 points and six assists, Jessica Davenport had 15 points and Michelle Munoz, daughter of Pro Football Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz, scored 10 for the Buckeyes.Shawntinice Polk led the Wildcats (2-1) with 16 points and Dee Dee Wheeler hit double figures for the 36th consecutive game with 13 points.The game figured to be a showdown between Polk, a 6-5 junior, and Davenport, a 6-4 sophomore. With both defenses sagging inside to lock up the centers, Matter opened things up with her outside shooting and triggered the quicker Buckeyes fast break.Ohio State led 17-15 midway through the first half before Hoskins scored six points in a 10-2 run. After Munoz drove for a layup, Hoskins scored on a spinning move in the lane and then followed her own miss on a breakaway and hit another bucket. Stephanie Blanton closed the spurt with two free throws.Ahead 36-23 after closing the first half on a 19-8 run, Munoz opened with a 3 and Matter added consecutive 3-pointers from nearly the same spot to push the lead to 49-25.
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