Defense, Shooting Key Buckeyes Win Over YSU

With point guard Shavelle Little causing the visitors from Youngstown State trouble at both ends, Ohio State downed the Penguins 84-50 Wednesday night in Columbus.

The 18th-ranked Ohio State women's basketball team used a short run to take control in the first half and a longer one to blow the game open after intermission en route to an 84-50 win over visiting Youngstown State.

Defense keyed both spurts, and some timely shooting did not hurt, either.

The Buckeyes (8-2) came out admittedly sluggish and trailed YSU (4-6) by a point with just over six minutes having ticked off the clock and 2,864 spectators watching a bit uneasily at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.

At that point OSU forward Star Allen followed a Shavelle Little miss with a layup to put the Buckeyes ahead 14-13.

Allen struck again with a layup off a nice setup from Little on the Buckeyes' next time down the floor, and the home team was off and running.

After making a steal on the defensive end, Little got herself open with a pump fake and then drained a 15-foot jumper to put the Buckeyes up six.

At the other end, Little deflected a YSU pass to Lesslee Mason-Cox, who collected it and began a fast break that eventually ended with a three-pointer by Ashlee Trebilcock to put Ohio State ahead by eight and complete a 9-0 run with the score 21-13 with 11:44 on the clock.

The closest YSU would get the rest of the way was five a few minutes later.

Ohio State stretched the lead to 10 in the final minute of the opening stanza before Trebilcock put an exclamation point on the half by stepping through a trap to sink a running one-hander with eight seconds on the clock.

That basket gave Ohio State a 37-25 lead heading into the locker room.

After the break it was all Buckeyes.

They scored 17 of the first 19 in the second half to blow the game open.

Marscilla Packer got them started with a three-pointer and finished it with a breakaway layup that immediately followed a steal by Jantel Lavender on the left wing.

That put the Buckeyes ahead 54-30 with 14:39 to go.

Packer, a senior guard, finished with 12 points and four rebounds. She made 5 of 9 shots from the field, including 2 of 5 treys.

Trebilcock helped her out in the backcourt with 11 points, including a three, and the junior added four assists.

Meanwhile, the starting frontcourt of Lavender and Allen combined for 27 points and 18 rebounds. Those totals included game-highs of 16 points and 10 boards by Lavender, the star freshman who posted her fifth double-double of the season.

Not hurting Ohio State in opening up some breathing room was a team-wide improvement in shooting from the field, something that will need to become a trend rather than a blip in order for the Buckeyes to bring home a fourth straight Big Ten title or do much damage in the postseason.

After shooting just 35.6 percent combined in back-to-back losses to Auburn and Maryland, the Buckeyes have notched efforts of 38.3 percent against Ole Miss and 49.2 percent at Washington before posting a 56.1 mark against the Penguins.

Ohio State head coach Jim Foster said that is a result of his young team learning what a good shot is.

"When we reverse the ball, we're good," he said. "When the ball doesn't reverse we're not. We're starting to figure that out."

"They started to hit shots, that's for sure," YSU coach Tisha Hill said. "We were hoping they would not wake up so soon."

When the Buckeyes did find their shots, the Penguins were sunk because OSU's defense was rarely in question.

As she is making a habit of this season, Little spearheaded the OSU defensive attack.

The sophomore finished with six steals to go along with five assists and six points.

Ohio State finished with 13 steals overall and blocked five shots.

The Penguins shot 33.3 percent (20 of 60) from the field and made just 3 of 16 three-pointers.

The Buckeyes hope they are finding their stride with a tough final nonconference team up next in Nebraska Saturday afternoon in Columbus with the Big Ten schedule to follow.

"I think (shooting) and reversing the ball, doing little things that Coach says to do, and continuing with on-ball pressure, I think those are going to be the big keys to us winning games," Little said.

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