Feb. 22, 2007
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Penn State coach Rene Portland acted as if she were disgusted with the Ohio State Buckeyes.
“You’ve got a share of the Big Ten title, you’ve got the No. 1 seed (in the conference tournament) and you’re in the NCAA tournament,” Portland said with a smile. “What else do you guys want? You’re greedy.”
Jessica Davenport scored 26 points and Ashlee Trebilcock had 17 to help No. 5 Ohio State beat Penn State 78-61 Thursday night to clinch at least a share of its third Big Ten title in a row.
The Buckeyes (25-2, 14-1) lead Purdue by a game heading into their regular-season finale at Michigan on Sunday.
“This ranks pretty high,” Davenport said of the conference title. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do. We didn’t want to lose on senior night. We wanted to set a standard for everyone who comes to Ohio State. We always gave everything we had.”
Star Allen added 22 points for the Buckeyes, who captured a piece of their 10th Big Ten title. Ohio State’s seniors are 105-20 with three conference championships.
“Senior night tops it,” Davenport said when asked to rank her career highlights. “Just to have my whole family with me and to see my teammates happy and excited. And to see Coach Foster happy.”
Jim Foster, often a curmudgeon around his players, flashed a broad grin.
“Thanks, Jess,” he said.
Tyra Grant scored 17 points, Kamela Gissendanner had 16 and Amanda Brown had 15 for the Nittany Lions (13-15, 6-9), who are 0-8 on the road this season and have lost six straight to the Buckeyes.
Davenport hit 10 of 17 shots from the field and six of seven free throws to go with seven rebounds and four assists. With her second field goal of the game, she passed Katie Smith for the school record with 827.
“The thing I like about Jess is she lets the game come to her,” said Portland, in her 31st year as a head coach. “She doesn’t try to dominate the game … but she dominates the game. And she’s a great role model because of her temperament.”
The Buckeyes shot 65 percent from the field.
Asked the secret to winning titles, Foster said it was simple.
“(It’s) that we have good players,” he said. “You don’t win without great players. It’s a basic prerequisite for winning. We have very good players and they are unselfish, they share the ball and they talk most of the time on defense.”
Once again Ohio State had trouble putting away a team. Its 30-game Big Ten and 27-game home winning streaks were snapped in a 62-59 loss to No. 2 Michigan State on Sunday.
The Buckeyes began the second half by expanding on their nine-point halftime lead. Trebilcock, in a shooting slump until the last few games, drilled a 3-pointer and Allen scored inside to push the lead to 42-28, the largest of the night to that point.
But the Nittany Lions, who lost the earlier meeting 63-61 on Jan. 11 on two free throws by Buckeyes’ backup center Andrea Walker with 1.3 seconds left, made it close.
Grant scored eight points in a 10-2 surge that drew Penn State to 55-50. The Lions got as close as four points at 57-53 with 7:58 left before Ohio State pulled away.
“We would be three to five (points) down and it would blossom someplace else,” Portland said.
Trebilcock was a seldom-used sub for most of the season until second-leading scorer Brandie Hoskins tore her Achilles’ tendon four games ago. Trebilcock has since blossomed in a starting role.
She hit a 12-foot fadeaway after a timeout before Davenport hit four free throws to push the lead to 64-53. The lead never fell below eight points again.
“Before the game, someone said, ‘Let’s go out and do it for the seniors,”‘ said Trebilcock, a first-year transfer from UCLA. “That motivated me to play a little bit harder.”
Neither team played a spotless floor game: The Nittany Lions turned the ball over 21 times and the Buckeyes 18 times.
Still, the result was beautiful for the Buckeyes.
“It was great to have your family and friends watch you and to have the fans recognize you in your final home game,” Davenport said. “And it was our third straight. That is pretty exciting right now.”