January 8, 1999

COLUMBUS, Ohio – 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 Friday night before 5,918 fans at Value City Arena.

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.

“Tonight is one of those wins in your program that you remember forever,” Ohio State head coach Beth Burns said. “I say that because of the respect that we have for Coach [Theresa] Grentz and the Illinois program. We had huge individual performances from so many people and I think we’ve shown that we’re a pretty good team.”

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, as Illinois could not get a good look at the hoop, giving Ohio State the tough win.

“Our aggressiveness was a key in the game,” Burns said. “We have to be aggressive to win in this league.”

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 three-point 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. Ohio State hits the road next week in conference action, playing Friday at Indiana and Sunday at Northwestern in the FOX Sports Big Ten Game of the Week.