Oakland 45

(15-16, 8-7 Horizon)

Ohio State 68

(29-2, 17-1 Big Ten)

    9:30 PM ET, March 19, 2006

    Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana

    1 2 T
    OAK 20 2545
    OSU 35 3368

    Top Performers

    Oakland: N. Piggott 14 Pts, 9 Reb

    Ohio State: D. Merrill 23 Pts, 4 Reb

    Davenport puts up 19 and 18 as No. 1 Buckeyes roll

    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- Jessica Davenport and Debbie Merrill overwhelmed Oakland with their size and athleticism. Fortunately for Ohio State, the two-woman tandem was all it needed Sunday night.

    Davenport and Merrill combined for 42 points and nearly two-thirds of Ohio State's baskets to lead the top-seeded Buckeyes past the 16th-seeded Golden Grizzlies 68-45.

    "Jessica and I were really aggressive," Merrill said. "Our teammates were looking for us and throwing it over the top."

    Ohio State used an atypical strategy to win its 20th straight, taking over the nation's longest active winning streak when both Bowling Green and Coppin State lost Sunday.

    Instead of relying on their usually balanced inside-outside game, the Buckeyes (29-2) relied on a huge size disparity by repeatedly throwing lob passes inside to Davenport and letting Merrill work 1-on-1 when Davenport was double-teamed.

    The result was predictable.

    Davenport had a double-double and Merrill connected on 7-of-8 shots in the first half alone. Davenport, the Big Ten's player of the year, finished with 19 points and 18 rebounds, setting a school record for an NCAA Tournament game despite sitting out 10 minutes.

    Merrill had a season-high 23 points, four rebounds and four assists.

    Together, Merrill and Davenport combined to hit 20 of 29 from the field while the rest of the Buckeyes were 12 of 40.

    Davenport and Merrill were dominant enough to send the Buckeyes into the second round of the tournament for the fourth straight year. They'll play eighth-seeded Boston College, a 78-61 winner over Notre Dame, on Tuesday night.

    The Buckeyes also tied the school record for most consecutive wins in school history and moved within one of matching their single-season victory record.

    But when the Buckeyes had trouble offensively, they just continued to look for Davenport and Merrill.

    "We were having difficulty knocking down 3-pointers and any perimeter shots," guard Ashley Allen said. "But both Jess and Deb shot well, so why not just let them go to work?"

    Ohio State's strategy was obvious almost from the opening tip.

    Davenport routinely exploited her four to 5-inch height advantage by scoring Ohio State's first eight points as it broke to a 10-2 lead.

    When Oakland tried to adjust, the Buckeyes simply dumped the ball to Merrill. She scored six points in an 8-3 run that gave the Buckeyes a 25-10 lead midway through the first half.

    Sixteenth-seeded Oakland (15-16), the Mid-Continent champs which was making its second NCAA appearance, had no answers inside. They were led by Nicole Piggott with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Anne Hafeli added 13 points.

    But Oakland was outscored 48-24 in the paint, shot only 30.5 percent from the field and were outrebounded 51-33.

    "They did a nice job of pounding it in against us," Oakland coach Beckie Francis said. "Sometimes it's like it's not fair. It's like, take out the 6-5 kid and let's have a game."

    Little changed in the second half.

    After building a 35-20 halftime lead, Davenport and Merrill opened the second half by scoring five straight points to make it 40-20.

    The Grizzlies only got as close as 16 the rest of the way as Davenport and Merrill continued to dominate the post until they left the game late.

    But Merrill expected more from the Buckeyes.

    "We were kind of out of sync," she said. "We didn't communicate as well as we usually do. We're going to have to pick it up."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 45 68
    FG Made-Attempted 18-58 (.310) 32-67 (.478)
    3P Made-Attempted 3-20 (.150) 2-12 (.167)
    FT Made-Attempted 6-13 (.462) 2-3 (.667)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 12 (0/0) 13 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 0 24

    Game Leaders

    PointsN. Piggott 14D. Merrill 23
    ReboundsN. Piggott 9J. Davenport 14


    » Mar 19, 2006 @OSU 68, OAK 45Recap | Box Score