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January 14, 1999

COLUMBUS, OhioThis Weekend – Ohio State will take its unblemished Big Ten record (4-0) on the road this weekend, playing at Indiana Friday, and at Northwestern Sunday, in the featured Big Ten Game of the Week on FOX Sports.

OSU, 11-3 overall, has won 10 of its last 11 games, including victories at home last week vs. Wisconsin (70-55) and Illinois (70-67).

As visitors, the Buckeyes enjoy a record of 4-1 this season.

At The Helm – The Buckeyes are mentored by Coach Beth Burns (Ohio Wesleyan ’79), who is guiding the program to success both on and off the court. Last season in her inaugural campaign at OSU, Burns funneled energy and enthusiasm into a squad that posted a promising 15-12 campaign. In addition, two players earned all-conference laurels, while another three were honored as OSU Scholar-Athletes.

Burns’ hiring in April 1997 capped an eight year, highly-regarded career at San Diego State (151-82). The three-time WAC Coach of the Year (1994, ’95 & ’97) captured three conference championships and led the Aztecs to NCAA Tournament appearances in four of the last five years.

Celebrating her 10th head coaching season this fall, her second with the Buckeyes, Burns touts a career mark of 177-97 (.646).

On Ohio State – The Ohio State women’s basketball team used solid defense down the stretch, along with clutch shooting, to pull out a hard-fought 70-67 win over Illinois Jan. 8.

Ohio State (11-3 overall) is off to its best start in Big Ten action since the 1992-93 Buckeyes opened with five straight wins.

Senior forward Marrita Porter and freshman guard Lauren Shenk led the Buckeyes with 17 points apiece, while sophomore guard Jamie Lewis chipped in 13 points and five assists.

The Buckeyes had to rally from several deficits to pull off the win. Porter’s bucket with 1:20 remaining in the contest tied the game at 67. After junior forward Michaela Moua’s steal, Lewis nailed two crucial free throws to push the Buckeyes ahead, 69-67, with 46 seconds left.

Ohio State then buckled down on defense, and senior guard Roslyn Barker’s stingy defense on the perimeter forced an Illinois shot clock violation with 14 seconds left. Lewis then drained one of two free throws to give OSU a 70-67 lead with 13 ticks remaining.

The OSU defense prevailed again the last trip down the court, with Illinois unable to get a good look at the hoop, giving Ohio State the tough win.

OSU shot 51 percent (25-of-49) in the game, including a 7-of-15 performance from beyond the three-point line. Shenk drilled five of her seven attempts from behind the arc for the Buckeyes.

Susan Blauser led the Illini (9-6, 3-2) with 18 points, while Tauja Catchings and Alicia Sheeler each scored 16 points.

Shenk From “Three” – Freshman guard Lauren Shenk matched her career-high 17 points in back-to-back games last week with the aid of her marksmanship from the three-point line. The three-point wizard put on a clinic, shooting 73 percent (8-of-11) from beyond the arc, including a Value City Arena record 5-of-7 performance vs. Illinois. Averaging 26.8 minutes per game in league play, Shenk has received a starting nod in the last two games and in another seven this season. Lewis Makes The Connection – Sophomore guard Jamie Lewis’ string of consecutive free throws was halted at 18 after missing her first attempt in the second half vs. Illinois. Lewis, 3-of-6 for the evening, remains however one of the best in the league at the stripe, shooting 85 percent (17-of-20).

More Moua – Reserve forward Michaela Moua, has tipped off the Big Ten season much like the winter season – by storm. Last week, the six-foot reserve paced the squad vs. Wisconsin with a season-high 19 points. Against Illinois, Moua added six points while collecting a team-high eight rebounds. Averaging 29 minutes a game, Moua is posting 13.3 ppg. in conference action, shooting a second best 61 percent from the floor.

DEFENSE Wins – Cliche’ perhaps, but the longtime philosophy of Coach Beth Burns whose 1996-97 squad at San Diego State led the country in scoring defense at 51.7 ppg. In just her second season at OSU, the effort has caught on, as the Buckeyes have won 10 of their last 11 games, holding teams to 54.4 ppg. Last time out, the Buckeyes held Illinois under its season scoring average of 80.8 ppg at 67 points. In conference play, Ohio State’s defense ranks third at 59.0 ppg.

Deja vu – At 4-0 in the conference, the Buckeyes have an opportunity to equal their best league start since 1992-93 in playing Indiana Friday. That season, Ohio State won five straight, claimed a Big Ten co-championship and advanced to the NCAA national championship game.

We’re Back – In the national ranking that is. Last week, for the first time in four seasons, Ohio State appeared in the Associated Press rankings at No. 23. This week, the Buckeyes are appearing in both polls, 17th by AP and 24th by USA Today/ESPN, for the first time since Feb. 4 1994 when listed at No. 22.

Week AP USA Today/ESPN Jan. 7 23 – Jan. 11 17 24

How We Rate – Ohio State ranks No. 1 in the Big Ten and 10th nationally in the 1998-99 Ratings Percentage Index as of Jan. 11. The RPI is based on three factors: winning pct., opponents’ winning pct., and opponents’- opponents’ winning pct.

Rank School RPI 10. Ohio State .659 11. Purdue .655 43. Indiana .600 44. Illinois .600 51. Penn State .592 55. Iowa .587 70. Michigan .568 82. Wisconsin .550 85. Michigan St. .547 114. Northwestern .522 127. Minnesota .514

INJURY REPORT

Marrita Porter – Underwent surgery Nov. 3 to tighten a screw which keeps the rod in her right tibia intact … Practices were limited through 11-6. Averaging 37 minutes per game.

Jamie Lewis & Larecha Jones – Lewis missed about one week of practice following an on-court collision with teammate Larecha Jones on Oct. 31. The duo was attempting to keep a basketball in play when Jones’ knee hit Lewis in the head, causing a concussion. Jones required stitches between the fourth and fifth fingers on her left hand but suffered no setbacks in practice. Lewis participated in her first full practice on Nov. 9 and is averaging 33.0 minutes each outing.

Roster Change – Sophomore center Heather Frank is applying for a medical hardship after surgery and recent testing on the stress fracture in her left foot revealed she would be unable to continue her collegiate career. The Milan, Mich., native competed in 18 games as a freshman, averaging 1.7 points and 1.1 rebounds per game.

Last Time With Indiana – The sole meeting between the two programs was a seesaw battle right up to the final six minutes of the game. That’s when Buckeye forward Larecha Jones hit a clutch three-pointer to erase the ninth tie of the game and allow OSU a permanent lead and 79-73 win at the buzzer.

The Hoosiers held a three-point lead at halftime (32-29) but Ohio State was fueled by Jones’ 19 points in the second half and Roslyn Barker’s career-high 17. Four players posted double digit scoring paced by Jones’ 28. Senior forward Marrita Porter added 16 and a game-high eight rebounds. Junior forward Michaela Moua closed with 11. Quacy Barnes scored 21 points and Dani Thrush grabbed seven rebounds to pace IU. Last Time With Northwestern – Both Ohio State and Northwestern protected their homecourts last season, OSU 81-64 on Feb. 11, and Northwestern 76-60 on Feb. 6 to claim its first league win of the season.

In the last meeting, OSU jumped to an early 15-4 lead. Northwestern clawed its way back though, rallying to a 26-25 lead at the 6:42 mark, and 12-10 the rest of the way, to post a 38-35 halftime lead.

The Wildcats used a balanced scoring attack in the second half where OSU was beat 38-25. Buckeye Marrita Porter, who scored 19 points in the first half, closed with a game-high 26. Larecha Jones chipped in 17. All five starters finished in double figures for Northwestern led by Kristina Divjak with 19 points.