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Davenport gets help from Hoskins, Merrill in Ohio State win

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio State star Jessica Davenport might
not have to carry the load this season.

Davenport had 24 points and 14 rebounds, and Brandie Hoskins
added career highs of 25 points and 10 assists to lead No. 4 Ohio
State over Eastern Kentucky 85-38 on Monday night in the Buckeyes'
season opener.

Debbie Merrill, a Cincinnati transfer who was required to sit
out last season, had 11 points in her Ohio State debut.

Hoskins and Merrill should prevent opposing defenses from
focusing on the 6-foot-4 Davenport, a preseason first-team
All-American who dominates the low post. The trio made 26 of 35
shots against Eastern Kentucky.

"Most very good basketball teams have three players who can
score the ball," Buckeyes coach Jim Foster said.

Davenport made 11 of 14 shots, with nearly all coming close to
the basket against the undersized Colonels. Eastern Kentucky (0-2)
was outscored 56-14 in the paint.

Ohio State shot 57.8 percent and had 23 assists against just
nine turnovers. Hoskins helped the Buckeyes with her shooting and
passing, hitting 10 of 14 field goals to go along with 10 assists.

The Buckeyes' point guard relishes working with Davenport and
Merrill.

"I believe that they are two of the best post players in the
country, so my job is easy. I just have to get the ball up to
them," Hoskins said.

Eastern Kentucky hung tough for a half against an Ohio State
team returning most of its players from a 30-5 squad that reached
the round of 16 in last season's NCAA tournament.

The Colonels, led by Laura Shelton's 10 points, trailed 37-27 at
halftime but they quickly fell apart after the break.

Ohio State scored 25 of the first 31 points in the second half
to build a 62-33 lead with 10:19 remaining. Davenport had 10 points
and Hoskins had four points and three assists in the surge.

Eastern Kentucky missed 15 of 20 shots in the second half and
was outscored 48-11.

"The difference was our guard play stepped up defensively,"
Foster said. "Basketball is a simple game when you can pressure
the other team's guards and move the ball offensively."

Colonels coach Larry Joe Inman skipped the postgame news
conference and no one from the team was made available for comment.

Shelton only took two shots in the second half and failed to
score. She was the only Eastern Kentucky player in double figures.

Eastern Kentucky was held to 37 percent shooting and had 23
turnovers, leading to 35 Ohio State points.

Marscilla Packer added 10 points for the Buckeyes.