3:00 PM ET, January 16, 2005
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Rutgers finally found a Top 10 team it couldn't handle.Jessica Davenport scored 22 points and No. 5 Ohio State went on a late 6-0 run to beat the Scarlet Knights (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP) 52-50 on Sunday, the Buckeyes' sixth win in a row.Rutgers (12-3) quickly rose in the rankings by beating No. 8 Tennessee, No. 4 Texas and No. 1 LSU in the span of eight days in the last month. However, Ohio State (17-2) won by getting the ball inside to Davenport and consistently beating the Knights' pressure defense."That was a big game," said Ohio State's Caity Matter, who hit a 3-pointer on the biggest possession of the game. "They've been playing so well. But that was a battle between two great teams."Davenport went 7-for-12 from the field, including making her only 3-point attempt, and was 7-of-8 at the line. She also had seven rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal."We didn't have an answer for the big girl," Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said.Davenport led the way as the Buckeyes -- leading the nation in field-goal shooting at 52.4 percent -- hit 77 percent of their shots in the second half against one of the country's top defensive teams."That's not a good thing," said Rutgers guard Chelsea Newton. "We just didn't make smart decisions in the second half. It hurt us when they knocked them down."Matee Ajavon had 20 points to lead Rutgers, which had a seven-game winning streak snapped.Ohio State pulled ahead with a 6-0 spurt sparked by Matter's 3-pointer and then held on thanks to a free throw by reserve Stephanie Blanton with 10 seconds left.The Buckeyes took the lead for good at 47-45 with 2:12 left on Brandie Hoskins' nifty spin move for a layup. Rutgers then lost the ball on a shot-clock violation, the officials disallowing Essence Carson's 15-foot baseline jumper because she didn't get it off in time.Matter then hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:16 left to push the lead to 50-45 -- the first time since less than five minutes into the half that the teams had been separated by more than three points. It was the only time in the game that the Scarlet Knights played a zone defense, trying to cover the court as Ohio State inbounded from underneath the basket."I thought Matter's eyes were going to pop out of her head," Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. "That was the first time someone hadn't been within two feet of her all day."Matter, the Buckeyes' second-leading scorer but limited to just seven points, said she was as surprised as anyone to find herself open."I said to myself, 'They haven't been in a zone all game,'" Matter said. "They sort of trapped Ashley (Allen) after I passed to her and she kicked it out to me. I was left wide open and the ball went in."Allen said the 3-pointer broke the Scarlet Knights' spirit."Once Caity hit that 3, I saw a little doubt in their eyes," she said.After a free throw by Hoskins, Carson hit a 3-pointer with 31.8 seconds left to get the Knights within 51-48. Blanton later added a free throw to make it 52-48.Carson hit another jumper with 4.2 seconds left, but Ohio State was able to inbound and run out the clock.A crowd of 8,145 -- the largest at Value City Arena for at least four years -- waved white towels and cheered as the final seconds ticked away.The Buckeyes, who ran their home record to 12-0 this season, have beaten No. 20 Purdue, Michigan State (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) and Iowa (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) this month.Stringer was denied in her attempt to tie former LSU coach Sue Gunter for third on the all-time wins list for women's coaches. Stringer is 707-242 in 32 seasons."Ohio State did a great job of playing defense," she said. "Anything that I've seen on tape, they've been soft with their perimeter pressure but they demonstrated they can get after it today."Foster said his team is much more than a bunch of talented scorers."We've been a very good defensive team," he said. "People perceive us as being an offensive team. They see our field-goal percentage and think that, and not enough times do they see us at the defensive end of the floor."We took care of business for the most part," she said.
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