Feb 8, 2004

Box Score

Associated Press Writer

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – Shereka Wright was delighted to score her 2,000th career point Sunday, but it was how and where she did it that pleased her most.

“It was definitely special to get 2,000 in Mackey Arena and get a win,” Wright said after leading No. 6 Purdue to a 57-54 victory over Ohio State.

Wright finished with 19 points, and her layup with 10:24 remaining allowed her to join MaChelle Joseph and Stephanie White as the only players in school history to score 2,000 points.

Erika Valek had 17 points and four assists for Purdue (19-2, 9-1 Big Ten), which outscored the Buckeyes 20-4 during an 11-minute stretch spanning the end of the first and start of the second half to take control and win its 10th straight.

Caity Matter scored 14 points for Ohio State (13-8, 5-5), which saw its struggles from the free-throw line continue in its first loss in four games.

The Buckeyes entered the game as the worst free-throw shooting team in the Big Ten, and went 11-for-22 from the line Sunday.

Nevertheless, Ohio State was able to rip off a 13-4 run late to close the Purdue lead to 56-54 with 31.6 seconds left.

Wright made one of two free throws, and Ohio State had a chance to tie on its last possession. But Matter couldn’t get free for a 3-point try, and Kim Wilburn’s desperation heave at the buzzer was off the mark.

“We’ve been getting better as a basketball team and tougher as a basketball team,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. “The next step is to execute at the end and get that extra five minutes (of overtime) and win the game.”

Ohio State held Purdue to 38 percent shooting, and dominated early with its superior size in the post and crisp execution on offense.

Jessica Davenport (6-foot-5) and LaToya Turner (6-3) towered over the Purdue front, which doesn’t have a player taller than 6-1.

Eight of Ohio State’s first nine baskets came on layups, many of them backdoor cuts that took advantage of Purdue’s aggressiveness on defense. Brandie Hoskins’ layup gave Ohio State a 22-14 lead with just over eight minutes to play.

The Boilermakers closed the half with a 12-2 run that culminated with Wright’s jumper from the baseline for a 26-24 lead.

“What we were doing was unacceptable,” Purdue coach Kristy Curry said. “We needed to crank it up on defense.”

The Boilermakers did just that, forcing Ohio State to 1-of-9 shooting in the final eight minutes of the half and creating turnovers that led to easy buckets.

The Buckeyes hung around thanks to poor Purdue shooting, but the Boilermakers had an answer for every Ohio State surge.

When Ohio State closed the gap to 44-37 midway through the second half, Beth Jones and Valek hit deep 3-pointers to push the lead back to 50-37.

Turner added 13 points and 10 rebounds for Ohio State, but Davenport was limited to 10 points after scoring 27 in the teams’ first meeting this year.

“Jess has to get the ball more,” Foster said.

Wright added three free throws down the stretch to help ice the win and cap a special day.

“It will be great to see her graduate,” Foster deadpanned. “Hopefully she does it with honors.”

Valek said she was happy to see her teammate achieve the milestone and hopes it brings Wright some much-deserved attention.

“This proves to everyone in the Big Ten, and everyone in the nation, that she’s an outstanding player,” Valek said.