2:00 PM ET, January 29, 2006
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Illinois needed to either defend center Jessica Davenport or swarm Ohio State's outside shooters. In the end, neither approach worked.Marscilla Packer made five 3-pointers to complement Davenport's 19 points, leading No. 7 Ohio State to a 75-49 victory on Sunday."You have to make a decision," coach Jim Foster said of the dilemma facing the Buckeyes' opponents. "When you open the inside game, it creates opportunities for quality looks from the perimeter and penetration. It's all about the inside game establishing itself so you can add those other dimensions."It marked the Buckeyes' eighth consecutive win and kept the defending co-champions a game behind front-running Purdue in the Big Ten. A crowd of 11,622 watched the contest, the second-largest audience for a women's basketball game at Value City Arena.Packer's 15 points all came on 3s. Brandie Hoskins added 13 points for Ohio State (17-2, 8-1)."I became a little more aggressive. I was looking to shoot the ball," Packer said. "In the first 10 minutes, I was looking for someone to pass to, but then I started looking for the shots."With a double-figure lead for the final 24 minutes, the Buckeyes were able to empty their bench. Eleven players scored and eleven more had at least an assist or a rebound.Janelle Hughes scored 14 points for Illinois (12-8, 4-5), which lost its fourth game in a row."We were doing what we had to do coming out of the blocks," Illinois coach Theresa Grentz said. "We're right there, then 'Hey, this is nice. This is great playing before 11,000 people."The Illini had 20 turnovers and shot 36 percent from the field. Ohio State came in second in the nation in points allowed at 51.2 per game.Davenport hit 9-of-13 shots from the field to go with six rebounds, one assist and two steals. She sat out most of the second half."She's very, very talented," Grentz said of Ohio State's linchpin. "Jim has them work everything around her. On defense, they sort of float, again around her."The Illini led early by collapsing inside on the 6-foot-5 Davenport, a first-team All-American a year ago. Then Ohio State's perimeter shooters and defense began to take over. The Buckeyes shifted to a zone 4 minutes into the game, and Illinois had difficulty penetrating or getting an open shot the rest of the way.The Buckeyes went on a 13-2 run -- Davenport accounting for seven points -- to build a 22-12 lead."I hit some shots and then the outside game began clicking," Davenport said. "They really had to respect our outside shooters, and it really opened it up inside for me."After the Illini pulled to 22-16 on short jumpers by Hughes and Erin Wigley, Packer started a 9-0 run by hitting consecutive 3-pointers."Who hit those first couple of 3s for a six-point swing?" Grentz asked rhetorically. "It was No. 22 (Packer). That was the difference."Grentz said her players failed to pay attention to Packer, who leads the Big Ten in 3-point shooting at 46 percent. Ohio State made 5-of-8 from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes.Ahead 34-20 at the break, the Buckeyes scored 13 of the next 17 points to push the lead to 47-24. Packer hit two more 3s and Ashley Allen added another for Ohio State.The Buckeyes finished 11-of-17 on 3-pointers to the Illini's 0-for-9.Foster said he was pleased that his team still has room for improvement and is making progress."I don't want to be coaching a team that is as good as it's going to get this week," he said. "A small group of teams have the opportunity to improve and I think we're in that group."More than 160 former Ohio State female athletes were honored at halftime. Their careers predated the Title IX legislation of 1973, meaning that they did not receive varsity letters for their athletic participation. They were presented with certificates and varsity pins.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press