WOMEN'S BASKETBALL Buckeyes claim top-10 tussle
No. 9 Ohio State pulled away from No. 6 Michigan State in the second half.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- Everyone knew No. 9 Ohio State could score. What they didn't know was that the Buckeyes could be tough and play defense, too.
Jessica Davenport scored five of her 14 points during a late 16-0 run to lead the Buckeyes to a 68-54 victory over the Spartans on Thursday night.
"When we got down eight, we ratcheted it up and went to another level," Ohio State coach Jim Foster said of the Buckeyes, who finished the game on a 34-12 run after facing their biggest deficit with 15 minutes left.
Brandie Hoskins led the Buckeyes (13-2, 2-1 Big Ten) with 17 points. Caity Matter added 12 points and Stephanie Blanton had 10.
The game was billed as an early showdown between the Big Ten's top two teams. Ohio State came in leading the conference in scoring, field-goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free-throw shooting. Michigan State was first in steals and rebounds.
Ohio State resolve
The Buckeyes' wins came by an average of 27 points. In the only games they had really been pushed -- at Notre Dame and at Penn State -- they didn't play with any grit down the stretch.
That all changed in the final 7 minutes against Michigan State.
"There wasn't a panic mode," Foster said. "We stayed to the task at hand."
Liz Shimek scored 17 points and Kristin Haynie had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Spartans (12-2, 1-1), who had an eight-game winning streak end.
"We weren't tough enough at junctures," Michigan State coach Joanne McCallie said. "Credit Ohio State. They played hard and tough. We just weren't tough enough."
The Spartans came in 5-0 on the road, including wins over Connecticut and Notre Dame.
The Spartans broke open a 28-28 tie at the half, scoring on their first five possessions. Their biggest lead was 42-34 after a three-point play by Shimek with 15:34 remaining.
"Coach told us to take it one possession at a time," Hoskins said.
"We got down at Penn State and started playing not to lose. In the huddles (tonight) we kept saying, 'One possession at a time.' We decided if we got down, we weren't going to stay down."
Sparked by defense
Ohio State picked up the tempo on defense, pulling to 47-46 on a rebound follow by Blanton and then taking the lead on a three-point play by Ashley Allen with 8:09 left.
Michigan State tied it on a left-handed scoop shot by Shimek, but then the Buckeyes pulled away for good.
Marcilla Packer hit a 3 from the right corner against the Spartans' matchup zone before Lindsay Bowen hit two free throws at the 6:57 mark -- Michigan State's final points until the last minute.
"We stopped focusing," Shimek said. "We weren't tough at all."
The Spartans missed 14 shots from the field in a row until Shimek hit a jumper with 28 seconds remaining.
"They definitely out-toughed us tonight," Haynie said. "We didn't take care of the ball on offense and we gave up 3s at crucial points of the game. And when they made that run, we didn't respond."
After Davenport's free throw, Packer took a long pass from Kim Wilburn for a breakaway layup.
Davenport, playing with three fouls, then added two baskets inside, one off a loose ball and the other on a follow.
The Buckeyes then scored eight more points in a row -- six by Hoskins -- as the Spartans continued to struggle at the offensive end.
"I would like to have us have the mind-set of being a tough team wherever we play, home or away," Foster said.
"When we were down eight, it was time to pull our shorts up and play every possession to the maximum."