Marscilla Packer entered the game against Minnesota at Value City Arena late Sunday afternoon, but she still left to a standing ovation.
The Buckeye senior, who did not start because of a coach’s decision, scored just two points in the first half but scored eight in a key stretch early in the second half in which Ohio State stretched a seven-point lead to 13 with 12 minutes to play.
From there the 17th-ranked Buckeyes cruised to a 76-62 win, their 17th victory of the year against five defeats.
With an 8-3 Big Ten mark, the Buckeyes also maintained a share of first place and avenged an earlier defeat at the hands of the Golden Gophers (15-8, 6-5).
The Buckeyes were punished on the boards, 41-25, but more than made up for it by scoring 29 points off 21 Minnesota turnovers. Ohio State also enjoyed a 15-point advantage from beyond the three-point arc.
Ashlee Trebilcock led all scorers with 19 points and got support from Packer (16), Jantel Lavender (12) and Tamarah Riley (11).
High scorers for the visitors were Leslie Knight with 16 and Zoe Harper, who came off the bench to score 13.
The Buckeyes led 41-34 when Packer got open at the top of the key and swished a three-pointer.
The next two times down the floor, Trebilcock found Packer wide open for treys and she did not disappoint the crowd of 7,001.
Trebilcock then contributed a two-point jumper of her own before Packer spun free for a turnaround jumper to put the Buckeyes ahead 54-41 with 12:13 to go.
The closest the Golden Gophers would get from that point on was eight.
Packer said all she wanted to do when coming off the bench was get running and get into a groove.
“I think I was just focused,” she said of her personal hot streak.
Minnesota head coach Pam Borton said the more physical and more aggressive team won.
“We pride ourselves on being physical and having an aggressive attitude and they took it right to us and beat us at our own game,” Borton said.
Trebilcock said the Buckeyes would take that as a compliment.
“Everybody played tough today,” she said.
As for her setting up of Packer, Trebilcock said, “I never see Pack that wide open. I think I was more shocked than anything. They were preoccupied with something else or something and she knocked them down.”