Feb. 11, 2007

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Postgame Press Conference

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) – Marscilla Packer made up for Brandie Hoskins’ absence in Ohio State’s first game since a season-ending injury to its second-leading scorer.

Jessica Davenport scored 28 points and Packer added 17 as the fourth-ranked Buckeyes beat Illinois 69-60 on Sunday.

Hoskins, averaging 14.3 points and 5.3 assists, tore her left Achilles’ tendon Thursday at Minnesota.

“We obviously tailored some stuff we did for Brandie’s unique game, but does that inhibit Marscilla’s ability because we’re not using her abilities as well?” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. “We didn’t have to. Today without Brandie, we see Marscilla is also a playmaker.”

Davenport, averaging 17.6 points and 9.4 rebounds coming in to this game, played all 40 minutes for the Buckeyes (23-1, 12-0 Big Ten), drawing Illinois’ defensive focus and creating open outside shots for her teammates.

Senior guard Stephanie Blanton scored all seven of her points in the final 3:45 for Ohio State.

“If you’re doubling somewhere, there’s going to be somebody open,” Illinois coach Theresa Grentz said. “You’re taking your chances and you’re going to hope Blanton doesn’t knock that shot down or whatever, but maybe she does. You’re rolling the dice.”

Illinois took a six-point lead when Lacey Simpson made a 3-pointer with 11:56 left in the first half. However, Packer hit a 3, Tamarah Riley made a jumper and Packer hit another jump shot to put the Buckeyes back on top with 9:45 to go.

The Illini and Buckeyes traded leads four times and tied things up five times in the first half. But Ohio State went on a 5-0 run in the last 2:17 before the break to make it 31-25 at the half. Davenport led all scorers with 14 points at the break, and Lori Bjork led Illinois with 10 points.

“We started off slow, then after the first few minutes we matched their intensity,” Bjork said. “But you can’t just play hard. You’ve got to execute and find a way to win.”

Davenport made a quick two and Packer added a 3 to stretch Ohio State’s lead after the half.

Bjork answered with a 3 and the teams traded shots for the next 10 minutes, though Illinois struggled to close the gap.

“I think the tempo of the game increased in the second half,” Foster said. “Quicker shots were happening earlier on offense than they were in the first half.”

Jenna Smith hit a pair of free throws to pull the Illini to 52-47 with 6:05 to go. However, Davenport made a jumper to push the Buckeyes’ lead back to seven with 5:48 left.

Illinois tried to chip away at the margin, thanks in large part to Bjork, who made a 3-pointer with 5:37 to go and then split a pair of free throws. But the Buckeyes made five of their last six free throws to seal the win.

“We had the right amount of energy, we tried to move the ball,” Davenport said. “Even though Brandie’s gone we have a lot of season left to play. I think we shot the ball well, but rebounding and overall defense is something you can always improve on.”