Buckeyes Turn Back Illinois 75-49

OSU downs Illinois 75-49 before season-high crowd of 11,622 at Value City Arena.

Illinois came into Value City Arena Sunday with a plan – zone Ohio State as a way to contain and confound OSU All-American center Jessica Davenport.

The plan worked for a short while – but only a short while.

The seventh-ranked Buckeyes went on a three-point barrage late in the first half to break open a tight game and take a 75-49 win over Illinois before a season-high crowd of 11,622.

Davenport led the Buckeyes (17-2, 8-1) with 19 points and six rebounds. But Marscilla Packer proved invaluable as the zone buster. She hit 5 of her 7 three-point shots to add 15 points, while Brandie Hoskins added 13.

"You have to make a decision," said OSU coach Jim Foster, whose team won its eighth straight game. "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."

OSU remained a game behind Purdue (17-2, 9-0) in the Big Ten standings.

"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."

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.

"Today we waited to see how they were going to guard us and took it from there," Davenport said.

The Illini led early by collapsing inside on the 6-5 Davenport. But OSU 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 three-pointers. The Buckeyes built their lead to 34-20 at halftime.

The Buckeyes scored 13 of the first 17 points of the second half 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.

Notables

* The attendance Sunday of 11,622 is the second largest at Value City Arena for women's basketball game. Ohio State's top attendance of 17,525 was set last season vs. Penn State on Feb. 27, 2005, when the Buckeyes defeated Penn State, 69-58 to gain a share of the Big Ten title.

The attendance Sunday (11,622), including games at St. John Arena, also ranks as the seventh largest all-time at Ohio State.

* Ohio State established a season high with 11 3-point field goals Sunday. The Buckeye connected on 11-of-17 attempts (.647), including a 6-for-7 stretch from between the end of the first half and the start of the second period. In that span, Marscilla Packer made 4-of-5 attempts, while Ashley Allen and Stephanie Blanton each made one 3-point FG.

* Ohio State's .647 percent shooting from beyond the 3-point arc Sunday is the first time the Buckeyes have topped 60 percent from that range since making 10-of-15 (.667) in a 107-37 win at Ohio Dec. 1, 2004.The Buckeyes were 5-of-8 from beyond the arc in the first half and 6-of-9 in the second half.

The 11 3-pointers made are the most for Ohio State since the Buckeyes buried 11 at Michigan last season in an 84-56 win Jan. 11, 2005.

* Eleven of the 12 Buckeyes who played Sunday scored at least one point and grabbed one rebound. Stephanie Blanton added nine points, while Allen had six points and Debbie Merrill had five points.

* With the win over Illinois Sunday, Ohio State has won 29 of its last 30 home games and 27 of its last 28 games played in Value City Arena.

* OSU is off until it visits Indiana next Sunday.


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