2:00 PM ET, December 3, 2006
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- No. 6 Ohio State almost flunked during finals week.Jessica Davenport and Marscilla Packer scored 25 points each and Brandie Hoskins added 23 Sunday for the Buckeyes, who rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to beat Washington 84-79.Ohio State was inefficient on offense and sloppy on the boards, and coach Jim Foster wondered if his team was distracted by exams."We played like it was finals week. I'll never understand that as long as I live -- I guess probably because I did so well on finals I didn't have to worry about it," the coach joked. "But it seems to be an interesting phenomenon."The Buckeyes (7-0) are off to their best start since going 10-0 in 2000-01. But it wasn't easy this time. The Huskies (3-4) led for a 32-minute span until Hoskins' three-point play with 2:05 left put Ohio State ahead to stay at 76-74."I wasn't worried," Hoskins said. "It's about maturing. Maybe if we were freshmen -- we've all been through something like that. It's about confidence and having heart and believing in your teammates."Packer hit four foul shots in the final 31 seconds to maintain the lead."We saw the score. We knew what we had to do," Packer said. "(We were) not getting second shots, boxing out -- all the little things we talk about. We knew if we stayed together we could come back."Cameo Hicks had 29 points and Cheri Craddock 11 for the Huskies. Emily Florence added five points and 11 assists.The Huskies led 64-53 with 10:30 left. At that point, they held a 25-17 rebounding edge over the taller Buckeyes and had forced 17 turnovers."We thought we could run on them, but we had to get stops and not let them go high-low all night on us," said Washington coach June Brewer Daugherty, who played at Ohio State.But Ohio State had only two turnovers the rest of the way."I loved how we played from the 10-minute mark on," Foster said. "We had a little conversation then and we came out and played harder and smarter."Breanne Watson's high-arcing jumper off an assist from Hicks put Washington ahead 74-69 with 2:56 left but Packer countered with a left-handed layup at the other end. After a timeout, Ohio State point guard Maria Moeller stole the ball from Florence and fed Hoskins with a long pass. She hit the driving layup and was fouled to pull the Buckeyes to within 74-73.Packer then hit a turnaround in the lane to push the lead to 78-74 with 1:22 left."We talked about Ohio State making a run. All great teams do," Daugherty said. "We had to make sure we handled the run and remained poised."The Huskies pulled within two points twice more, the last time on Hicks' long 3-pointer with 10.3 seconds remaining. But Packer made two free throws with just under 9 seconds left and Tamarah Riley added a free throw to close the scoring.Washington outrebounded the Buckeyes 35-32 and forced 19 turnovers, one fewer than they committed."They release their guards up the court. That can be a strength or a weakness," Foster said. "We didn't do a good job of understanding it."The Huskies were without their second-leading scorer and rebounder, Andrea Plouffe, a 6-foot-2 junior who was out with tendinitis in her knees. The Huskies had to scrap on the boards and scramble on defense to cover the bigger Buckeyes.They led 35-34 at the break even though Davenport scored 15 points and had eight rebounds and the Buckeyes shot 55 percent from the field.They did it by scoring in transition with a smaller, more mobile lineup. Hicks was the biggest problem for Ohio State, scissoring through the defense to challenge Davenport or making layups on long passes behind the lagging Buckeyes defense.Daugherty said Ohio State's top two players won the game."Packer really hurt us from the outside and with her and Jessica you pick your poison," she said. "You protect inside against Davenport and Packer can kill you."
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