"It was a very physical basketball game," Ohio State head coach Jim Foster told Comcast Sports Net. "We made our free throws when it counted."
The game was in doubt for much of the way, but Ohio State completed the three-game sweep over the No. 16 Spartans (22-9). The top-seeded Buckeyes will meet the winner of second-seeded Indiana and sixth-seeded Purdue in the finals on Monday.
"This was a hard-fought game; very physical," Merrill said. "It's always hard to beat a team three times in a row. I'm glad my teammates stepped up, especially when I had some foul trouble in the first half. It was a great game."
Davenport was nine points shy of her 19 per game average, but she was in the neighborhood of a triple-double.
"I can do other things besides score," she said. "It's hard to beat a team three times, but we kept our focus."
Ohio State led 27-25 at halftime. It extended its advantage to 43-38 at the 10:00 mark of the second half.
Michigan State was able to tie the score at 49 at the 5:10 mark. But a Merrill three-point play, and a Marscilla Packer three-pointer gave the Buckeyes a 55-51 lead with 3:49 remaining.
Ohio State held its largest lead of the game, 65-58, in the closing minute.