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Dec. 31, 2004

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By RUSTY MILLER
AP Sports Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Matt Sylvester scored seven Ohio State points in a row – his only points of the game – to lead the Buckeyes to a 72-61 win over Saint Joseph’s on Friday for their sixth consecutive victory.

Terence Dials maintained his hot hand for the Buckeyes (11-2) with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Ivan Harris added 11 points and freshman Jamar Butler had a career-best 10 points.

Dials, selected as the Big Ten’s top player the past two weeks, has averaged 23.2 points and 10.3 rebounds a game while shooting 63 percent from the field and 70 percent at the line during the Buckeyes’ win streak.

Ohio State, 14-16 a year ago and mired in NCAA investigations and lawsuits since, has won by an average margin of 18 points.

Chet Stachitas scored 16 points and Pat Carroll had 14 for the Hawks (3-6), who dropped their fourth in a row – matching their longest losing skid in six years.

Saint Joseph’s, which had trailed by as many as 13, scored on its first eight possessions of the second half to draw as close as seven points. Stachitas, who scored only three points in the opening half, had nine in the first 5:43 of the second half to lead the Hawks.

Carroll’s jumper from the left wing cut Ohio State’s lead to 54-51 with 8:04 left. After Je’Kel Foster scored on a reverse layup off an inbounds pass, Sylvester scored the Buckeyes’ next seven points as part of 9-2 run. He hit a 13-foot baseline jumper, banked in a 10-foot runner and then added a three-point play off a fastbreak assist from Tony Stockman to give Ohio State a 63-53 lead with 4:42 remaining.

Stachitas’ reverse layup in traffic cut the lead to 63-57 with 3:20 left, but the Hawks didn’t score for almost 3 minutes.

Dials was up to form in the opening half, scoring 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. His teammates were a combined 7 for 22.

Neither team scored for more than 4 minutes late in the half, but Ohio State closed with an 8-3 run to take a 36-26 lead.

The last time Saint Joseph’s played in Ohio against a Thad Matta-coached team, the No. 1-ranked Hawks were rocked 97-87 by Xavier in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic-10 Conference tournament in March.