7:25 PM ET, March 4, 2007
INDIANAPOLIS -- Jessica Davenport showed why she's a three-time Big Ten player of the year.When she posts up, she's almost unstoppable.The powerful 6-foot-5 Davenport scored a season-high 32 points, including all seven Ohio State points in overtime, to help the Buckeyes (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today; No. 5 AP) to a 73-71 victory over fifth-seeded Penn State in the Big Ten tournament semifinals."I was looking for her every time down the floor," point guard Maria Moeller said. "She was having success, so we just kept going to her."Davenport kept delivering the key shots -- and anything else the Buckeyes (28-2) needed.She was 12-of-18 from the field, 8-of-12 from the line, grabbed 10 rebounds, had five assists and although Davenport finished with no blocks, she repeatedly changed the Lady Lions' shots.Her only real miscue came in the closing seconds of regulation when Davenport's potentially winning 7-footer bounced off the front of the rim. She also missed a second free throw with 6.3 seconds left in overtime that gave Penn State a chance to tie it.Ohio State survived when Tyra Grant's 15-foot baseline jumper was shot after the buzzer -- with Penn State still having a timeout."We had a play designed," said Brianne O'Rourke who passed the ball to Grant. "I just passed it up, thinking she had a better shot."Star Allen added 12 points and six rebounds for the Buckeyes, and injured guard Marscilla Packer gave Ohio State an inspirational lift, finishing with nine points in a game she wasn't even supposed to play after spraining her left ankle in Friday's quarterfinal victory. On Saturday, Packer was in a walking boot and ruled out of the game."The medical people were totally convinced she [Packer] wasn't going to play today," coach Jim Foster said. "As the treatments progressed, they said 'Maybe if you need her in a situation or two, you might have her.' They kept working, and as they were doing their probing tests before the game, the doctor said 'I think she can go.' "For the Buckeyes, the three-time Big 10 regular season champions and the conference's defending tournament champs, it was a scare they didn't need as they fight for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.They still have one more chance to impress the selection committee Monday night when they face Purdue (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today; No. 15 AP) in the championship game. Ohio State has won 21 of 22 overall and 34 of 35 against conference foes, including a 64-55 victory at Purdue in January.The Boilermakers reached the title game with a 64-61 victory over Michigan State (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today; No. 22 AP) in Sunday's other semifinal. Monday night's winner clinches the Big Ten's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament -- not that either team needs it to get in.Penn State (15-16) was led by Kamela Gissendanner with 21 points and Grant with 17, but ended its season with a seventh straight loss to the Buckeyes."It's hard to contain a player like that," Gissendanner said of Davenport. "You just hope she has an off-day, but tonight she was pretty much on. We did our best to try and stop her."Davenport relied on her typical style of dipping her shoulders down, then leaning in and around defenders to get free. When Penn State collapsed around her, she adeptly found open teammates.But Packer's presence was just as important.She entered five minutes into the game and her teammates responded with a 14-2 run.Eventually, Packer wore down and the Lady Lions took advantage.They methodically fought back from an 11-point second half deficit to get within 64-63 with 2:59 left, then tied it on O'Rourke's 3-pointer with 29.6 seconds left.Penn State scored the first four points in overtime.Then Davenport took control. She drew a foul and made two free throws on the Buckeyes' next possession. On the next two, she made a 7-foot bank shot and a 5-foot jumper. On Ohio State's last possession, she drew another foul and made 1-for-2 from the line to help the Buckeyes survive."Coming into the game, we didn't know if Packer was going to be playing, so I just had that mind-set that I was going to have to pick up some extra scoring," Davenport said. "Fortunately, she was able to come in and give us a good lift, but it's just a mind-set you have to have."
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Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||27-65 (.415)||31-52 (.596)|
|3P Made-Attempted||6-12 (.500)||2-5 (.400)|
|FT Made-Attempted||11-14 (.786)||9-16 (.563)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||15 (0/0)||14 (0/0)|