10th Loss in 11 Games Extends Ohio State’s Misery

Five straight losses and 10 of 11 in the L column and the Buckeyes season is quickly becoming a lost one, dropping yet another home contest, falling to visiting Northwestern, 69-63. The loss dropped Ohio State to a miserable 11-13 and 3-10 in the Big Ten, while Northwestern moved to 17-7 and 8-5. Three point shooting was the story. Northwestern drilled 12 of them, while Ohio State was ice cold from beyond the arc, hitting just 1 of 14. Overall, Ohio State shot 50% compared to 46% for Northwestern while the Buckeyes dominated the glass, out rebounding Northwestern 35-24, but 15 turnovers, leading to 16 Northwestern points, and the difference in long range shooting led to yet another Ohio State loss. Justice Sueing led Ohio State with 19 points and 8 rebounds, while Bruce Thornton dropped in 12. Zed Key added 8 and 10 in the losing effort. Northwestern was led by Boo Buie and Brooks Barnihizer, who each scored 19, and Chase Audige added 12. 

Northwestern got on the board on their first possession, but Ohio State scored the next 5 to take their first lead in just over 110 minutes of basketball.  The first bucket had Zed Key finding a cutting Ice Likekele for a lay-in and Key then completed an and one opportunity to put the Buckeyes in front. A pair of Northwestern buckets sandwiched around a Key dunk kept the lead with the home team and when Bruce Thornton found Felix Okpara with a lob for two, the Buckeyes took a 9-6 lead into the first media break. Out of the timeout a pair of Northwestern triples around a slashing lay-in by Sean McNeil put the Wildcats in front, but a Thornton step back jumper from 17 put the Buckeyes back ahead. Another Northwestern triple answered to allow the Wildcats to regain the lead, but Brice Sensabaugh, coming off the bench for the second straight game, got into the lane on a dribble drive, drew 3 defenders, and left it for Key on the right block who scored off the window to tie the score and at the under 12 media timeout, Ohio State and Northwestern were deadlocked at 15. The teams went scoreless over the next 4 minutes save one Wildcat bucket and at the under 8, Northwestern led 17-15. Roddy Gayle evened the score, knifing into the lane and knocking down a floater and after a stop on the other end, Ohio State regained the lead when Justice Sueing hit a fade away just inside the free throw stripe. Another Sueing bucket just below the line extended Ohio State’s lead and after a Buckeye 30 second timeout, the lead increased to 6 when McNeil came off a screen and buried a 15 footer. Northwestern ended a 5 plus minute scoring drought and stopped an 8-0 Ohio State run with a bucket off the glass, but a Tanner Holden deuce answered and at the under 4 minute media timeout, Ohio State led 25-19. Back to back Northwestern triples tied the score, but a pullup 16 footer by Sueing put the Buckeyes back in front. The Wildcats split a pair of free throws and after a Buckeye turnover gave Northwestern the last possession of the half, a bucket off the window gave the Wildcats the lead at the break, 28-27. The Wildcats finished the last 3 ½ minutes on a 9-2 run, erasing a 6 point Buckeye lead to go into the locker room with the aforementioned 1 point lead. Ohio State shot 54% in the half, but a goose egg from beyond the arc, going 0 for 9, while Northwestern was held to just 42% shooting, but 5 of 14 from long range. Ohio State out scored the Wildcats 18-8 in the paint, but it was the three point shooting for Northwestern and the lack thereof for Ohio State in addition to 7 Buckeye turnovers, many of which were unforced, which was the difference. Zed Key led Ohio State in the first 20 minutes with 7 points and 6 rebounds, while Northwestern was led by a game high 9 from Boo Buie. 

Ohio State got the game even in the opening seconds as Key got to the line and split the pair, but a Wildcat triple on their first possession put Northwestern back ahead. After the 10th straight missed three for Ohio State, a Wildcat bucket extended the lead. Sueing scored off the window after a Key offensive rebound gave the offense a second chance and the Buckeyes trailed by 3. McNeil tied the score, banging down Ohio State’s first three of the game and after a defensive stop, McNeil got to the line in transition and split the pair to give the Buckeyes a one point lead. The lead extended when Likekele split a pair of free throws and Sueing hit a jumper at the foul line. Northwestern stopped the Ohio State 9-0 run, scoring after a loose ball created an easy bucket and at the under 16 media timeout, Ohio State led 37-35. Northwestern re-tied the game after a Buckeye turnover, but Thornton drilled a pullup J to answer. After a defensive stop, Sueing got to the rim off the bounce to put the Buckeyes up 4. Northwestern knocked down a scramble three to trim the lead to 1 and after another Buckeye turnover, the Cats scored at the rim to go back in front. Brice Sensabaugh knocked down a jumper from the right elbow, his first points of the game, to reclaim the lead for Ohio State and at the under 12, the Buckeyes led 43-42. Out of the timeout, Sueing got to the line and knocked down the pair to put Ohio State up 3, but a Wildcat triple after the 10th Ohio State turnover, tied the game. A Thornton runner to the right of the paint put Ohio State back ahead and Northwestern called timeout with 10:03 remaining and the Buckeyes on top 47-45. The Cats regained the lead, scoring the next 6 to take a 51-47 lead and Ohio State took a timeout with 7:51 left in the game. Out of the timeout, Thornton turned the corner and got to the rim for a score high off the window and after a defensive stop, Likekele split a pair of free throws to trim the deficit to one. Another Northwestern triple, their 10th of the game put the Cats up 4, but a floater by Thornton cut the lead to 2. Two Northwestern free throws on consecutive possessions extended the lead to 6, Northwestern’s largest of the game. A long Northwestern triple forced Ohio State to take a timeout with just 4:30 to play and Northwestern now on top 61-52 and the Cats on a 8-0 run. Ohio State stopped the run with a pair of Sueing free throws and after a Wildcat turnover, Sueing scored off the window while he was fouled. He dropped in the free throw to complete the old-fashioned three point play and trimmed the deficit to 4. A couple chances to cut into the lead failed and a Wildcat triple with 2 minutes to go was a dagger. Two Thornton free throws cut the lead to 5, but a Wildcat dunk with less than a minute to go was the exclamation point in the Northwestern win. Two Sensabaugh free throws trimmed the lead to 5 and after a free throw on the other end, a tip dunk by Okpara cut the lead to 4. A Northwestern turnover in the backcourt, a Buckeye miss and two Wildcat turnovers ended the ballgame. 

There’s not much more to say about what has become a disappointing year. While this was always going to be a building year, nobody could have predicted what this has become. Barring an improbable finish, Ohio State will miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since Thad Matta’s final season and will likely play on the first day of the Big Ten tournament. There are many reasons why we have gotten here, but unfortunately it’s where we are. At this point, will they win again? That’s not a certainty unfortunately. In this one, the poor long range shooting and coming off the bench, leading scorer Brice Sensabaugh just never looked comfortable, playing a season low 16 minutes, going just 1 for 8 from the floor, scoring just 4 points. The Buckeyes also struggled at the stripe, hitting just 14 of 22. It’s something different every night contributing to the losses stacking up, but all they can do is look forward and take it game by game and hope to play better basketball each time out. While it’s easy to look forward to next season with a top recruiting class coming in to join the talented freshman class that’s already here, they still have games to play and hopefully they figure out a way to get some wins down the stretch. 

Ohio State hits the floor again on Sunday afternoon at 1 PM, hosting Michigan State at the Schott.

-Jason Harris

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