Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Ohio St. women ousted

By Mary Foster
The Associated Press

RUSTON, La. - Cheryl Ford just needed a little reminder. A couple of words with her coach was all it took for Ford to break out of her early slump, and she settled down to score 25 points and grab 15 rebounds as Louisiana Tech defeated Ohio State 74-61 in the second round of the West Regional on Tuesday night.

"The only thing I said to her was she brought us here, and we need her to take us home tonight," Tech coach Kurt Budke said. "And she did. She worked her tail off."

The fifth-seeded Techsters (31-2) won their 29th straight game, extending the longest winning streak in the nation. They also improved to 36-0 at home in the NCAA tournament.

"That's what I heard from everyone, how long the postseason streak was," Budke said. "We didn't want that to go down tonight."

In the closing minutes, fans chanted, "Bring on the Tigers." Tech will play LSU in the round of 16.

DiDi Reynolds and Caity Matter each had 16 points to lead the fourth-seeded Buckeyes (22-10), who are winless in five games against Louisiana Tech. Reynolds made four of her five 3-pointers. Courtney Coleman added 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Trina Frierson scored 18 for Tech, and Amber Obaze had 17.

Although Ford struggled early as Ohio State double- and triple-teamed her under the basket, she adjusted late in the first half, and so did Tech.

"I picked it up and posted harder," Ford said. "And when the guards started hitting the outside shots, then they had to go out and guard them, and Trina and I just posted up harder."

Both Ohio State and Louisiana Tech rely on their inside games and defense. Tech held the Buckeyes scoreless for almost eight minutes in the second half.

"They're a good defensive team," Reynolds said. "I didn't get as many open looks as I did in the first half."

Before the game, Budke dismissed junior center Sultra Harding from the team for conduct detrimental to the team. Tech had already lost Tamaka Clay and Tia Moore to academic problems, and the team used only seven players Tuesday night.

Ford picked up her third foul three minutes into the second half, but Frierson took up the slack, scoring three quick baskets to stretch the Techsters' lead to 55-46 with 14:15 left.

After a couple of turnovers in the first minute, the Buckeyes settled down and took a 27-20 lead with 9:13 left. Tech tied it at 27 on Ford's basket with 7:13 remaining, and the Techsters led 45-39 at halftime.

"Ford is a great player," Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. "She's the best I've seen in years."

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