Davenport Leads Buckeyes Past Gophers
The showdown between No. 2 Ohio State and 14th-ranked Minnesota was being billed as a battle between the Big Ten's two best centers. Neither the Gophers Janel McCarville nor the Buckeyes Jessica Davenport disappointed, but when it all came down to it Ohio State won the battle and the war.
Led by Davenport's 35 points, OSU got past the visiting Gophers 65-53 before 6,227 in Value City Arena Thursday evening.
The Buckeyes sophomore connected on 15 of 19 shots, and also corralled 11 rebounds, which resulted in her ninth double-double of the season. Davenport also had five blocked shots and three assists for the Buckeyes, who won their 14th game in a row.
"It was a good game for us," said Davenport, whose point total is an arena record. "My teammates were finding me in good spots, and the shots I hit were ones I practice every day."
McCarville notched 22 points and eight caroms and kept Minnesota in the game until she picked up her fourth foul with 11:56 left to play. She got a personal for a reach-in and compounded it when she yelled an obscenity at an official, for which she received a technical foul.
McCarville sat for five and a half minutes, which turned out to be a demoralizing blow for the Gophers, who looked a bit lost without their spiritual leader on the floor.
"It devastated our team," Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. "You can't have your All-American on the bench at a crucial time like that. Things like that just can't happen if you expect to win the game."
Minnesota (19-6, 9-4) came out strong, pushing a 14-13 lead to 19-13 on a free throw by Jamie Broback and consecutive baskets by McCarville. Davenport answered with a bank shot off the glass to cut it to 19-15, but Kelly Roysland converted a backside rebound into an easy layup and the Gophers led 21-15 with 6:15 left in the half.
As has been the custom for Ohio State (25-2, 12-1) this season, a timeout settled things down.
The Buckeyes used a 13-2 run to close the half, with 10 of the points coming from Davenport.
"Jess moves well without the ball, and she was getting in deep enough that they didn't have much they could do to stop her," OSU coach Jim Foster said. "She's beginning to recognize where the traps were coming from, and she knows how to use the glass. She had a very good game tonight."
OSU pushed the second-half lead to 47-34 on a layup by Davenport with just under 12 minutes left, but Minnesota got it down to 47-40 on a layup by Lauren Lacey with 9:46 to play. OSU scored eight of the next 11 points to go up 55-43, and it was never really a game the rest of the way.
OSU shot 51.0 percent for the game while limiting the Gophers to just 34.5 percent.
"You can't shoot 34 percent on the road and expect to win against a team like Ohio State," Borton said. "I thought we worked hard, but Davenport was the difference tonight."
The Buckeyes, who moved to 7-0 at home against ranked teams this season, were patient with the basketball, handing out 20 assists on 25 field goals. Brandie Hoskins led the way with seven helpers and scored nine points. She had more assists by herself than Minnesota had as a team (six).
When Minnesota collapsed on Davenport, the Buckeyes were able to work the ball around the perimeter and hit jumpers, and when the Gophers extended out to the wing OSU got the ball inside to its biggest player.
"We're a team that takes what the defense gives us," Foster said. "When Jess was able to get the ball inside she did something with it. Our guards were steady, and they did a good job pressuring the ball on the defensive end."
The game was not sloppy at all as the teams combined for just 16 turnovers.
OSU continues its torturous stretch on Sunday when it travels to No. 9 Michigan State at 2 p.m. The Spartans held off Iowa 67-60 Thursday night in Iowa City and were just a half-game behind the Buckeyes. The game between the Buckeyes and Spartans will be shown nationally on ESPN2.