Coming into its matchup with Michigan, No. 5 Ohio State found itself on top of the Big Ten in virtually every offensive category — leading the conference by wide margins in scoring, field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage.
But the Buckeyes’ offense stumbled out of the gate last night, scoring just 13 points in the first 11 minutes.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, it was only a matter of time before the Buckeyes’ offensive juggernaut got going. When the Michigan defenders collapsed on 6-foot-4 center Jessica Davenport, Ohio State’s deadly shooters got hot from long range, going 12-for-24 from downtown and killing the Wolverines’ hopes of an upset.
“From an offensive point of view, (Davenport’s height) probably helped us because they have to double team her,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. “We’ve got enough shooters that we’re going to find some pretty good shots.”
Ohio State senior Caity Matter spearheaded the Buckeyes’ jump-shooting onslaught. After missing her first two shots, the guard took over the game, sinking 10 of her last 11 shots, including eight of her last nine 3-point attempts. During one stretch late in the first half, Matter drilled three consecutive three pointers, extending the Buckeyes’ lead from 22-19 to 31-19. And once Matter got going, there was little the Wolverines could do to slow her down. With under six minutes to go, she shrugged off tight defense from Michigan sophomore Kelly Helvey and swished her eighth and final 3-pointer of the game, tying a career high.
Although Matter’s shooting prowess wowed the Crisler Arena spectators, her coach was clearly not surprised.
“(I see her shoot like this) about three days a week,” Foster said. “She can really shoot the ball, and she pretty much does it every day. Sometimes she guards herself, but she didn’t do that today.”
While Matter stole the show with her perimeter play, it was Davenport’s consistent inside effort that opened the floor for the rest of the Buckeyes. The Wolverines made life difficult for the sophomore center, swarming into the paint when Davenport received the ball down low. But with 6-foot freshman Ta’Shia Walker shouldering the bulk of the defensive burden, Davenport inevitably found scoring opportunities against the shorter defender. She finished with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
“(Davenport’s) long, isn’t she?” Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett said. “I think Ta’Shia did about as good a job as she could do on a 6-foot-4 player.”
Davenport’s scoring was key, but her impact on the game went well beyond just putting the ball in the basket. With multiple Michigan defenders hounding her each time she touched the ball, Davenport’s intelligent decisions opened up good looks for her teammates and helped Matter put up a game-high 28 points.
“I thought we did a great job early swarming the post, which was our game plan,” Burnett said. “And we knew we had to recover back, especially on (Matter). (But) we didn’t adjust on the court to stick to her.”
Ohio State sophomore guard Brandie Hoskins added 19 points and contributed a game-high seven assists. In all, Matter, Hoskins and Davenport combined for 66 of Ohio State’s 84 points, outscoring the entire Wolverine team by 10.