Ohio State survived a road game on Thursday — one could argue the Buckeyes stole it. The last thing the team needed was a flop at home against a Northwestern team that is currently projected in the NCAA field and on the cusp of being ranked in the top 25 — but flop is just what they did.
Northwestern walked away from the Schottenstein Center with a 74-72 victory on Sunday. It marked the first time since 1977 the Wildcats beat OSU in Columbus.
In the first half, OSU could not find its way to the charity stripe, as the Buckeyes had just one attempt from the free throw line — a miss from sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle. Even with some extremely physical defense on display from Northwestern, only one foul sent OSU to the line in the first.
Even after having a lead, OSU allowed a 10-0 run and a 9-0 run in the first that erased the lead.
The Wildcats were led by Scottie Lindsey, who racked up 21 points, who also lead the team with time on the court with 35 minutes. The Buckeyes had little answer for him, leading to the Wildcat win.
OSU was led in scoring by junior forward Jae’Sean Tate, who earned 14 points. Sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle had 13 points, and hit two of his three 3-point attempts.
“There was times in the game where we started on a run, but we just couldn’t capitalize,” Tate said following the loss. “First half, at the end we just didn’t work together as a team, and (Northwestern) got that little run. We just didn’t have it tonight.”
OSU had a bit of a scare during the first half, as sophomore guard C.J. Jackson fell hard in front of the Northwestern bench and was helped to the locker room during a timeout, putting little to no weight on his right knee. He later returned, and finished the game with seven points and six rebounds, but was visibly limping for much of the game.
Each side traded blows in the early goings of the second, before a 3 by Northwestern guard Bryant McIntosh brought the Wildcats’ lead to five with 13:59 left in the game.
Contrary to the first half, Northwestern was guilty of a plethora of fouls, allowing 22 second-half chances at the line, and put the Buckeyes in the bonus with 12:29 left in the game. Of those, OSU converted just 12 for a 52 percent mark from the free throw line.
Junior center Trevor Thompson took advantage of a noticeable height advantage over anyone was guarding him, pulling down 15 boards and picking up 11 points. Sunday marked his sixth double-double this season, all of which have been with points and rebounds.
“It’s just frustrating,” Thompson said. “We have to play harder. Biggest thing, this last three games, has been competing, competing, competing. All in. There was moments today where we just split apart and wasn’t a team and didn’t compete.”
A basket by Jackson with 9:05 remaining tied the game at 52-52, before he found space on the next possession in the right corner and nailed a 3 to give OSU the lead.
Northwestern pushed ahead off back-to-back plays by guard Isiah Brown, who knocked down a tough layup before grabbing a steal and scoring on a fast break. After a Tate 3 from the corner and a defensive stop, the junior forward went to the line looking to tie the game, but missed one of his shots.
After getting close, OSU fouled Northwestern on three separate trips, giving the Wildcats an easy chance to stretch out their lead. All six free throws were converted.
“I thought our half court defense was pretty decent in terms of what we were trying to do and what we were trying to take away,” OSU coach Thad Matta said. “But Northwestern’s too good to give them free points, that’s for sure.”
OSU fought back with 3-point shots from Lyle and freshman center Micah Potter, and had the chance to pull within one after Loving made a layup and was fouled. But it wasn’t meant to be for OSU, as his foul shot clanked off the back of the rim, and Northwestern converted two more from the free throw line.
The loss puts OSU at 2-5 in the Big Ten, and 12-8 overall. Northwestern is now 5-2 in conference play, and is 16-4 overall.
The Buckeyes will face Minnesota at home on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in their next game