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Ohio State 1st team in 18 years to win at least share of 4 straight Big Ten titles

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Marscilla Packer scored 17 of her 21 points in the second half and Ohio State (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) beat Northwestern 74-50 Sunday to become the first team in 18 years to win at least a share of four straight Big Ten titles.

The Buckeyes (22-7, 13-5) clinched a tie for the championship with Iowa, which won at Wisconsin 87-78 an hour earlier. Ohio State grabbed at least a piece of the first five Big Ten titles from 1983-87. Iowa took home trophies four years in a row from 1987-90.

Jantel Lavender had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Tamarah Riley had 11 points for the Buckeyes, who have won 63 of their last 72 regular-season conference games. They have also won 76 home games in a row against unranked opponents.

Championship T-shirts were distributed at midcourt after the game, and the team posed for pictures with the Big Ten trophy.

Amy Jaeschke led Northwestern (5-25, 1-17) with 14 points. Nadia Bibbs added 12 for the Wildcats, who have lost 18 of 19. Their only conference win was a 70-58 victory over Penn State last week, ending a 16-game skid.

The Buckeyes, who have won five of six, will be the top seed in the Big Ten tournament this week at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Ohio State seniors Packer, Riley and Alice Jamen were honored prior to the game. The win gave them 109 victories in their career, one more than last year's seniors.

Northwestern hung tough with the Buckeyes for much of the first half. The Buckeyes finally gained the lead for good when Lesslee Mason-Cox hit a bucket inside and Brittany Johnson made a 15-foot jumper for a 17-14 lead at the 8-minute mark.

The Buckeyes held the Wildcats scoreless for more than 5 minutes, stretching a 21-20 lead to 33-20. Five players scored in the 12-0 run, which included a 3-pointer by Maria Moeller, a three-point play by Riley and Packer's first basket after she missed her first five attempts.

The Buckeyes led 35-22 and were in command by the break, with Packer hitting a 12-foot baseline shot while falling down in the closing seconds.

Packer then opened the scoring in the second half. Ohio State led by as many as 26 points.

The Buckeyes may have been deprived of an outright title by a scoring error earlier this week at Indiana. A free throw by the Hoosiers was disallowed by a violation with 2 1/2 minutes left, but the officials did not consult with the scorer's table, which counted the point. Instead of Ohio State having a one-point lead, Indiana ended up tied and eventually forced overtime before winning the game, 69-61.