April 19, 2006

Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s basketball team held its team banquet Tuesday to celebrate the 2005-06 season that saw the Buckeyes (29-3) win their second-consecutive Big Ten regular-season championship and first conference tournament crown. The banquet was held at the Buckeye Hall of Fame Café.

Debbie Merrill was the recipient of the Buckeye Award. Head coach Jim Foster presented Merrill with a commemorative timepiece and praised the senior transfer for changing her style of play to best help Ohio State succeed in 2005-06. Merrill came to Columbus mainly as an inside scorer in her three seasons at Cincinnati. In her one campaign with the Buckeyes, Merrill not only averaged more than 10 points a game, but topped the squad with 103 assists and ranked second in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio. The native of Cumberland, Tenn. became the first Buckeye to record more than 100 assists in a single season.

Foster also presented the Phyllis Bailey Award, named for Ohio State’s first women’s basketball head coach and longtime OSU athletics administrator. Alice Jamen was the Bailey Award winner for the 2005-06 season. The sophomore from Cameroon earned the accolade given annually to the “player that best demonstrates athletic achievement, academic responsibility, effort, enthusiasm and loyalty to the program.”

Each Buckeye from the 2005-06 squad was introduced and received their personal trophies for both the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles. Emcee and former OSU basketball player Kristin Watt also paid tribute to seniors Ashley Allen, Tia Battle, Candace Dark, Merrill and Kim Wilburn.

In addition, several players received their 2005-06 awards from outside the Ohio State program. Jessica Davenport was recognized for her second-consecutive Big Ten Player of the Year and All-Conference first team honors, while Merrill, junior Brandie Hoskins and sophomore Marscilla Packer all took home their all-conference third-team awards. Wilburn, OSU’s all-time leader in steals, also was laurelled for her 2006 Big Ten Defensive P.O.Y. honor. Hoskins also received her certificate for 2006 Most Outstanding Player of the Big Ten Tournament.

For the fourth year in a row, a minimum of four women’s basketball student-athletes were honored for their academic achievement during the 2005-06 season. Battle, Stephanie Blanton, Dark and Jamen all earned Academic All-Big Ten standing and OSU Scholar-Athlete status. Dark finished her career as a four-time OSU Scholar-Athlete and three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. Battle earned all-academic status from OSU and the Big Ten in each of her two seasons with the Buckeyes after transferring from Vanderbilt.

Lastly, Foster, Hoskins and Wilburn were presented with commemorative basketballs recognizing career achievements. Foster garnered a ball dedicated to his 600th career victory, recorded vs. Michigan State Feb. 20. Wilburn took home a ball commemorating her status as Ohio State’s all-time leader in steals and Hoskins was honored with a ball to celebrate her 1,000th point scored Jan. 10 at Michigan.