NEW YORK — Once again, Penn State gave Ohio State a heartbreaking loss in the final seconds.
With less than 30 seconds remaining and his team leading by one, redshirt junior forward Keita Bates-Diop turned the ball over while driving to give Penn State possession. The Nittany Lions slowly worked their way up the court, milking the clock until sophomore guard Tony Carr found wide-open junior guard Josh Reaves under the basket, who dunked to give Penn State a 69-68 lead with 3.1 seconds remaining.
Junior guard C.J. Jackson took one last shot with less than a second to go, but it was well off the mark and seventh-seeded Penn State beat second-seeded Ohio State 69-68 to eliminate the Buckeyes in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament in Madison Square Garden and earn its third win of the season against the Buckeyes.
“Give them credit. They made a few more plays,” head coach Chris Holtmann said. “We didn’t guard the last action very well but when you have a guy you’re trying to take account for like Carr that happens.”
Bates-Diop took over the game with nearly six minutes left. After rebounding his own shot and scoring to bring the Buckeyes to within three points, he blocked a shot by sophomore guard Tony Carr, snagged the defensive rebound and hit a 3 on the other end to tie the game at 57. Redshirt senior guard Kam Williams and Carr traded 3s after that to keep the game tied at 60.
A layup from sophomore forward Andre Wesson put the Buckeyes ahead 64-62 with just under four minutes remaining.
Bates-Diop hit a mid-range jumper to give his team a 66-62 lead, but that was followed by a dunk from Penn State’s senior forward Julian Moore. Bates-Diop responded with a layup to bring the score to 68-64 with 1:49 remaining, but his team could not maintain the two-possession lead.
An early dunk from Penn State sophomore forward Lamar Stevens spurred a 12-0 Nittany Lion run to go up 12-4 while Ohio State went on a five-minute scoring drought with 13:05 left. The Buckeyes had a similar fate and responded with a 16-3 run with 8:15 remaining in the half to bring the score to 20-15 in favor of Ohio State.
Both Carr and Bates-Diop finished with 25 points. The Nittany Lions finished the game with 39 rebounds compared to 33 from the Buckeyes. Senior forward Jae’Sean Tate said that the offensive rebounds they gave up in the second half was detrimental to the Buckeyes.
“We just gotta be — in the future we’ve got to lock down on the offensive end. I think we did, on the defensive end, we did a great job of making them take tough shots, but we gave them one-on-one chance and that’s where it hurt us,” Tate said.
After a devastating end to its Big Ten Tournament play, Ohio State must now look forward and prepare for the NCAA tournament despite the emotions involved with this loss.
“They should be angry and disappointed. Not in their effort, I thought their effort was good, but in the result,” Holtmann said.