Ohio State women’s basketball coach Jim Foster notched his 600th career victory and his team moved within one win of a second consecutive Big Ten championship Monday night.
The sixth-ranked Buckeyes built a 19-point halftime lead and went on to bury No. 14 Michigan State 69-38 before 7,400 at Value City Arena.
Ohio State (23-2, 13-1) won its 14th straight game and maintained a one-game lead in the Big Ten with two games to play. The Buckeyes need one with to clinch a second straight conference title and can win the crown outright with a victory over second-place Purdue Thursday night at VCA.
OSU center Jessica Davenport scored 18 of her 22 points in the first half as the Buckeyes grabbed a commanding 42-23 lead. She finished 8-of-11 from the field and also had five rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots.
“They were very aggressive and I had to make good moves in order to get into position so my teammates could get me the ball,” Davenport said.
The Buckeyes shot 61.5 percent (16 of 26) from the floor in the first half.
“We have evolved from earlier in the season,” Foster said. “We move better now and we play more to our strengths. We were focused and it was tough to stay that way against this very talented basketball team.”
Foster improved his career mark to 600-252 in 28 seasons at Saint Joseph's, Vanderbilt and the last four at Ohio State.
“I guess this means I have had a lot of good players and some good assistant coaches,” the typically low key Foster said afterwards.
His players presented him the game ball and patted him on the head afterwards.
Brandie Hoskins had 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists, with Debbie Merrill adding 13 points.
No one scored more than seven points for the Spartans (20-8, 10-5), who hit just 28.6 percent (16 of 56) of their shots from the field and were 1-of-13 on three-pointers. Winners of their last six games, they came in as the conference's No. 3 team in scoring at 69.9 points per game.
“It was a great game for Ohio State and I’ve been on both sides of games like this,” said MSU coach Joanne P. McCallie. “I would like to give them credit. They out played us, out fought us, out coached us, out everythinged-us for 40 minutes. It was not what you wanted to see on the national scene but I do not have any excuses. It is just how the game went.”
Michigan State trailed just 26-19 with 5½ minutes left in the half. The Buckeyes then capped the half on a 16-4 run to built their 19-point lead at the break. Marscilla Packer and Kim Wilburn each hit three-pointers late in the half as the Buckeyes expanded their lead.
OSU led by as many as 32 points in the waning moments. The Buckeyes had 38 of their points in the paint and converted 19 MSU turnovers into 19 points.
* Foster is the third current coach in the Big Ten to possess 600 career victories. He joins Illinois’ Theresa Grentz (648-296, 32 seasons) and Penn State’s Rene Portland (676-246, 31 seasons).
Nationally, Foster is the 12th active coach with 600 career wins. He is the 11th coach all-time to record 600 wins prior to or in their 28th season as a Division I head coach.
* With the win over Michigan State, the Buckeyes improved to 5-2 vs. ranked opponents this season. In his three-plus seasons at Ohio State, head coach Jim Foster is 23-17 vs. teams ranked in the AP top 25.
* With the win Monday, Ohio State extended its winning streak to 14 games, matching the Buckeyes’ 14-game win streak last season. Ohio State now has won 14-games in a row three times in its history. The Buckeyes also had a 14-game win streak in the 1992-93 national runner-up season. The Ohio State record is 20-consecutive wins in the 1984-85 campaign.
* With the win over Michigan State, Ohio State has won 32 of its last 33 home games and 30 of its last 31 games played in Value City Arena. The lone loss was to LSU earlier this year.
* Davenport’s 22 points Monday extended her streak of games with 10 or more points to 45. She has scored 10-plus in 59 of her last 60 contests. The last time Davenport failed to score at least 10 points was a six-point effort vs. Liberty Jan. 9, 2005.
* The Buckeyes host No. 12 Purdue (22-4, 12-2) on Thursday at 8 p.m. The Boilers took a 61-59 win over OSU at West Lafayette on Jan. 1. Thursday’s game will be televised regionally by Comcast Sports Net Chicago. (Time Warner cable in Columbus will show the game on access Ch. 24.)