8:05 PM ET, January 12, 2006
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Jessica Davenport sent a message to the Big Ten and the rest of the nation Thursday night.Guarding her one-on-one is a bad idea.Facing mostly single coverage for the first time this season, Davenport scored a season-high 34 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and had six assists to lead No. 8 Ohio State past Iowa 72-62 on Thursday night, the Buckeyes' sixth win in seven games.Davenport -- a preseason All-America and the reigning Big Ten player of the year -- consistently slipped behind the Hawkeyes' post defenders for easy baskets, which came in bunches. She keyed a 15-1 run midway through the first half to help give Ohio State a 14-point halftime lead, and iced the game by scoring the Buckeyes' final nine points.Davenport also picked up eight defensive rebounds in the second half, one less than Iowa had as a team."I took it in flow. I didn't try and force anything tonight," Davenport said. "I just really let the game come to me."Forward Debbie Merrill added 15 points for Ohio State (12-2, 3-1), which never trailed. Led by Davenport's seventh double-double of the season, Ohio State outrebounded Iowa 39-30 and outscored the Hawkeyes 52-30 in the paint."Ohio State did an excellent job defensively, excellent job on the boards," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "I really feel Debbie Merrill might be the 'X' factor for that team. ... She is very hard to guard."Crystal Smith led the Hawkeyes (10-6, 3-2) with 26 points and Megan Skouby added 11.Iowa trailed by as many as 16 points before staging a rally midway through the second half. The Hawkeyes went on a 21-11 run and got within 55-49 on a 3-pointer by Smith with 11:22 left.The teams traded baskets for the next 5 minutes before Davenport converted a three-point play with 6:00 left to push Ohio State's lead to 66-55.Iowa -- which upset Michigan State (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today; No. 9 AP) on Monday -- never got closer than 68-59 after that.Davenport broke the game open with 11 straight points during a 15-1 run midway through the first half that gave the Buckeyes a 39-21 lead.Iowa responded with a 7-0 run, but Marscilla Parker buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put Ohio State up 42-28 at halftime.Iowa was unable to stop Davenport from establishing position inside, and she took advantage with five baskets from inside 10 feet during a 3:33 span.Bluder said that the Hawkeyes' game plan was to try and stop Ohio State from getting too many entry passes into Davenport in the post, and for players to help Skouby defend Davenport.Neither plan worked very well."Jessica Davenport just continues to prove why she is one of the best players in America," Bluder said. "Our plan was to try and double her, and it obviously didn't work."The Buckeyes outscored the Hawkeyes 30-12 in the paint in the first half and shot 58 percent from the field."I think the tempo they played at tonight was impressive," Ohio State coach Jim Foster said of his post players.
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