Badger Jolene Anderson entered the game as the Big Ten’s leading scorer, but as Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone put it, “It was Packer’s day.”
That would be Ohio State’s Marscilla Packer, who tied her career-high with 32 points to lead her team to victory with 6,312 on hand for Military Appreciation Day. She hit 6 of 8 three-pointers, more than one of which came with Anderson in her face or scrambling to get there, and made 10 of 15 field goals overall.
Meanwhile, she spent most of the afternoon chasing around Anderson on the defensive end as well. The Badger finished with 16 points – four below her season average – but needed to hoist 22 shots to reach that total. The reigning Big Ten scoring champion and player tabbed before the season to take home conference player of the year honors was 0 for 5 from three-point range but did grab nine rebounds and hand out six assists.
Packer said her goal on the defensive end was simply to limit Anderson’s chances to shoot without a hand in her face.
“Don’t give her any open looks where she can get going,” Packer said. “Where ever she was at, make sure she didn’t get any easy shots.”
On the offensive end for Ohio State, success was largely about working from the inside out through Jantel Lavender, whom the Badgers tried to front without benefit of a double-team for most of the game.
“The post was open on the lobs every time,” Lavender said. “There was no backside help, and our threes were falling. Every time I saw ‘Pack’ open I was just trying to find her. I just think we were in the flow today.”
Packer suffered through a shooting slump earlier in the season but has heated up with the coming of the conference slate.
“I know how hot she can get,” Lavender said. “When it’s on, it’s on.”
Ohio State (15-3, 6-1) led 37-29 at the half but never could shake the visitors, whose hard-luck campaign continued.
Wisconsin fell below .500 (8-9) on the season and lost its fourth straight game overall with the previous two coming in overtime, first at Iowa then at home against Michigan.
The Badgers are just 1-6 in the Big Ten, but Stone was decidedly upbeat after the game.
“I’m not big on moral victories but this is a game that really proved to us that we can come on the road,” Stone said. “We strapped some things on tight and followed the game plan really well.
“We’re hoping that this is a turning point for us and the second half of the Big Ten season we can really get some momentum going.”
Wisconsin came out of the locker room for the second half with no intentions of being blown out as they were both times they faced Ohio State last season.
After Buckeye Tamarah Riley got the second-half scoring started by making one of two free throws, the Badgers scored seven in a row.
Danielle Ward made a 15-foot jumper from the elbow, Janese Banks swished a three from the right wing and Anderson made a breakaway layup.
Ohio State stopped the bleeding with a layup by Shavelle Little that was produced by a perfectly executed inbound play that put Ohio State’s lead back to three, 39-36, with 17:44 to play.
Ohio State would go on to stretch the lead to as much as seven but twice the Badgers were able to draw even.
The last time came at 55-all with 8:12 to go, an uprising Ohio State put down with a pair of three-point plays, one old-fashioned and one of the newer style.
Lavender scored in the lane and drew a foul from Alyssa Karel. She made the free throw to extend the lead to three, and after Lavender forced Banks to miss a layup in the paint, it was Packer’s turn again.
The OSU senior found herself alone in the left corner and buried another trey to double the lead to six.
She put the icing on the cake with a fadeaway jumper in the lane one possession later.
“The last fadeaway shot that she made was just the way the day was going for her,” Stone said.
Lavender aided Packer’s efforts by posting her 10th double-double of the season. The frosh scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. She also blocked two shots.
Little was the third Buckeyes in double figures on the score sheet as she chipped in 11 points, three assists and three steals.
Banks had 18 for Wisconsin. She and Anderson combined to shoot 13 for 37 from the floor. Zastrow had 15 points off the bench.
Ohio State beat Wisconsin for the 11th time in a row. Foster is 10-0 against the Badgers, whom his team swept last year by a combined score of 157-108.