Scorching Buckeyes shooting leads to win

Minnesotas loss was its third straight against the top teams in the Big Ten.

Emily Wickstrom

When Ohio State All-American Jessica Davenport had two points at halftime, it looked like Minnesotaís womenís basketball team had a chance to win Thursday nightís game.

Instead, the 17th-ranked Gophers dropped their third-straight game by a blowout margin in a 76-55 loss to the No. 6 Buckeyes in front of an announced 8,658 at Williams Arena.

With the way Buckeyes sophomore Marscilla Packer played, it looked like Ohio State didnít even need Davenport.

Packer, the Big Ten leader in three-point percentage and three-pointers made, lit up Minnesota with eight three-point baskets and 32 total points.

ìWe did not do a very good job on her,” Gophers coach Pam Borton said. ìWe fueled them in the first half by giving (Packer) three wide-open looks, defensively.”

Minnesota never led in the game, but was within striking distance in the first half.

The Gophers were down by just one point with 8:05 to go after a steal, layup and free-throw shot by Jamie Broback.

But Ohio State ended the half on a 16-6 run to increase its lead to 35-25.

ìWe turned the ball over in such crucial moments,” Borton said.

Davenport, who leads the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding, was held to 12 points and three rebounds, well below her per-game averages of 19.4 and 8.9.

Much of Davenportís struggles were due to the defensive performance of sophomore Natasha Williams, whom Borton decided to enter into the starting lineup in place of Liz Podominick.

Williams likely will be the starting center from now on, Borton said.

ìMy main goal was to not let (Davenport) get second shots and just to try to contest every shot that she put up,” Williams said.

Stopping Davenport wasnít enough, however, as Ohio State shot 81.8 percent from the field in the second half.

An early 5-0 Minnesota run was answered quickly by a 10-0 run by the Buckeyes, who then pushed their lead to 20 points midway through the second half.

Borton changed up the lineup in the second by inserting sophomore guard Brittney Davis in place of senior April Calhoun.

Davis started and played the entire second half with a career-high 25 minutes.

ìOur issue the last two games has been trying to find another guard that can defend on the perimeter,” Borton said. ìShannon Bolden canít guard everybody Ö I thought (Davis) did a great job. That was a great experience for her.”

The Gophers, who are second in the conference behind the Buckeyes in three-pointers made, struggled from behind arc, making only two of 18 attempts.

ìWe wanted to guard the three-point line and we wanted to guard it hard,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. ìWe had a lot of respect for their ability to shoot the basketball.”

Broback and Williams led the Gophers with 17 and 14 points, respectively, with Williams also adding seven rebounds and four assists.