NO. 16/16 Ohio State (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. Marist (0-0, 0-0 MAAC) 

Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007 – 2 p.m. ET
Value City Arena (19,099) – Columbus, Ohio

Radio/Internet – WOSU 820-AM/
Play-by-Play: Marty Bannister, Analyst: Kristin Watt

Television – None 

No. 16 Ohio State tips off the 2007-08 season at 2 p.m. Sunday against the team that ended its season a year ago when the Buckeyes play host to Marist. The Red Foxes defeated the Buckeyes last season 67-63 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

For the fourth year in a row, Ohio State has been selected to repeat as Big Ten Champions in 2007-08 by the Big Ten women’s basketball coaches and a panel of media members.

The Buckeyes won their third consecutive Big Ten title in 2006-07, finishing 28-4 overall and 15-1 in conference play. Head coach Jim Foster returns three starters from last year’s squad, including senior guard and State Farm Wade Trophy candidate Marscilla Packer, who was selected to the Preseason All-Big Ten team by the coaches and the media, and junior forward Star Allen, a preseason pick by the media.

Packer, 10.4 points per game last season, was a third-team All-Big Ten selection a year ago. She was Ohio State’s top 3-point shooter with team-best 57 makes and is OSU’s second-leading career 3-point shooter at .407 (156-383) while her 156 career makes ranks sixth all-time on Buckeye annals. A native of Pickerington, Ohio, Packer has started 59 games over the past two seasons and has helped the Buckeyes to three-consecutive Big Ten titles and NCAA tournament berths. She also was a member of USA Basketball’s U21 team this summer, helping the Americans to a gold medal in Moscow while leading the team in steals.

Allen, a second-team All-Big Ten selection by media last season, led Big Ten in FG percentage at .625 and established Big Ten record for FG percentage during conference season, hitting 84-121 from the field, good for 69.4 percent. She grabbed a team-best 79 offensive caroms and was fourth on team with 10.1 points per game.

The Buckeyes have won their last 12 regular-season openers and have not lost and opener since 1994. Ohio State is 32-10 all-time in season openers.

With four starters returning from the NCAA Sweet 16 team last year that went 29-6, the Red Foxes are the preseason favorite to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in 2007-08.

Sophomore forward and Ohio native Rachele Fitz was chosen as the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year after earning Rookie of the Year honors a year ago. Fitz led the team in both points (14.9 ppg) and rebounds (6.2). Joining Fitz on the All-MAAC first team was senior Meg Dahlman, Marist’s second leading scorer (11.9) and rebounder (6.1) a season ago while leading the Red Foxes with 47 blocks. Nikki Floress and Julianne Vianii were selected to the preseason third team.

Marist is led by head coach Brian Giorgis who is beginning his sixth season in Poughkeepsie. Giorgis is 107-47 in five seasons at Marist.

 Despite a 34-30 halftime lead, Ohio State could not overcome 23 turnovers and hot outside shooting by Marist in a 67-63 loss in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Palo Alto, Calif. Marist made 9-of-18 tries from 3-point land and converted 30 points off Buckeye miscues en route to the upset victory.
 Ashlee Trebilcock set career highs with 23 points and six rebounds. Jessica Davenport added 13 points and Marscilla Packer had 10. 
 After shooting 50 percent in the first half, Ohio State struggled in the second, going 9-for-26 (.346).

Ohio State head coach Jim Foster, the first coach in Big Ten history to win conference coach of the year honors in three-consecutive seasons, mixed a group of seven veterans and six newcomers last season to produce a 28-4 overall record and the team’s third-consecutive Big Ten championship.   When counting the loss of 108 wins during the last four seasons, Foster’s 2007-08 squad knows the table for success has been set. 

This year, with the departures of Jessica Davenport, Brandie Hoskins and Stephanie Blanton, the Buckeyes boast a team make up that includes nine underclassmen. However, the group of youngsters will benefit from five upperclassmen with plenty of big-game experience.

Marscilla Packer enters her senior year expected to start for the third season in a row and recently helped USA Basketball to a gold medal at the 2007 FIBA U21 World Championships. Included on the 2007 Wade Trophy Watch list, Packer has her sites on setting numerous Ohio State 3-point records in her final campaign. Junior Ashlee Trebilcock stepped in as a starter after Hoskins was lost to injury during the stretch run last season. She proved up to the task, knocking down 54 percent of her 3-pointers and leading the Buckeyes with 23 points in the NCAA tournament opener. 

The Buckeye frontcourt is loaded with game-tested post players. Tamarah Riley and Alice Jamen, both seniors, have supplied solid contributions off the bench in their three seasons at Ohio State. Junior Star Allen held down the No. 4 spot last year, starting all 32 games and earning second-team All-Big Ten honors. She established a league record by making 69.4 percent (84-121) of her field goal tries in conference play. 

A deep stable of sophomores will be looked to for added contributions in 2007-08. Maria Moeller, who started all 32 games, and Shavelle Little, 29 games off the bench, held down the point guard duties as freshmen. Moeller was one of the top players in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio. Cherise Daniel, a 5-11 sophomore, adds length and defensive prowess in the backcourt.

Andrea Walker experienced some significant moments as a freshmen backing up and playing alongside Davenport. Walker saw action in 31 games and nailed game-winning free throws at Penn State with less than two seconds remaining. Lesslee Mason-Cox enters her second year in the paint for the Buckeyes as well.

Foster looks forward to adding an athletic four-member freshman class in 2007-08, including a pair of state players of the year. Jantel Lavender, from Cleveland Central Catholic High School, was named 2007 Ohio Ms. Basketball, and Brittany Johnson, out of East Richland High School in Olney, Ill., earned Illinois Player of the Year honors.

Lavender, a forward/center, played for USA Basketball’s U19 team that won FIBA World Championship gold in Slovakia in August. Johnson reached the 4,000-point total as a guard. She scored at least 20 points in all but 10 career games and established an Illinois state record with 47-consecutive free throw makes.

Alison Jackson, also a McDonald’s All-American, will join Johnson in the backcourt. An athletic defender, Jackson led Fenwick High in Chicago, Ill., to a state championship last season. Sarah Schulze, a past Ohio state cross country champion from Anna, Ohio, will also be in the mix in the post.

Ohio State will gear up for the Big Ten season facing five NCAA tournament teams from a year ago, beginning Sunday with Marist. The Buckeyes will wrap up the non-conference with four of their last five games coming against NCAA qualifiers from a year ago: at No. 4 Maryland (Nov. 30), Mississippi (Dec. 2), at Washington (Dec. 16) and Nebraska (Dec. 22).Big Ten foes Purdue and Michigan State also made last year’s big dance. 

Senior guard Marscilla Packer was named among the 30 candidates for the 2007-08 Women’s Wooden Award, given annually to the nation’s top collegiate women’s basketball player. The list is composed of 30 female student-athletes who, based on last year’s individual performance and team records, are the frontrunners for college basketball’s most coveted trophy. 
 She also was named to the WBCA State Farm Wade Trophy Watch List, which honors the nation’s top collegiate player.

Over the past three seasons, Ohio State has amassed a remarkable 49-2 record at home and a 43-2 record at Value City Arena (6-0 at St. John Arena). The Buckeyes have posted two perfect home records under head coach Jim Foster, going 14-0 in his first year in 2002-03 and 17-0 in 2004-05. Overall, Ohio State is 76-6 at home in the Foster era.

Senior guard Marscilla Packer is among the best 3-point shooters in school history and enters the 2007-08 season sixth on the all-time list with 156 makes. The career record is 270 set by Caity Matter (2001, 03-05). Packer hit 57 3-pointers last season, 79 as a sophomore­ (good for fourth on the all-time single-season list) and 20 as a freshman in 2004-05.

Ohio State will be back in action Wednesday when they play host to Tennessee State at Value City Arena. Game time is 7 p.m.

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