Time and the shot clock were winding down, and Ohio State’s second-leading scorer drove toward the basket in a tie game searching for victory.
Instead, sophomore guard Duane Washington made the unselfish play and kicked back to junior forward Kaleb Wesson for an open 3 — which he missed.
Minnesota redshirt sophomore guard Marcus Carr, the game-high scorer in both meetings, dribbled forward, crossed over, and hit a pull-up 3 in the face of Ohio State redshirt junior guard CJ Walker.
One missed Washington heave later, Ohio State (12-7, 2-6 Big Ten) fell for the sixth time in seven games by a 62-59 final score against Minnesota (11-8, 5-4) in the Schottenstein Center Thursday.
“It hurts. It hurts a lot, especially when you’re in a game like that,” Walker said. “Made the right plays the whole game, and then that happens.”
Washington finished with 12 points, while Young led the way for Ohio State with 14 and six rebounds. Carr followed up his 35-point performance against Ohio State Dec. 15 with a 21-point outburst Thursday.
“He’s got that ‘it’ factor that you sometimes can tell, sometimes cannot,” Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino said. “He just, down the stretch, made some huge plays.”
After extending its lead to 11 by scoring on its opening second half possession, Ohio State’s offense froze.
The Buckeyes missed eight consecutive shots from the field, leading to an 11-1 Minnesota run over 4:20 of game time.
Carr hit a layup to cut the lead back to 40-39 before Ohio State sophomore guard Duane Washington finally hit a floater to stop the bleeding.
“I don’t think any of it changed [at that time],” Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said. “We knew it was gonna be a tight game. I don’t think any of us went into it thinking it was gonna be different than the way it turned out to be.”
He didn’t fully close the wound, however, because after Carr capped another 6-0 run Minnesota led 49-48.
Washington cashed in a 3 to pull Ohio State ahead again, Minnesota sophomore center Daniel Oturu evened it again.
Back-and-forth the two teams went, Minnesota grabbing an advantage that slipped in and out of place, then a dunk by junior forward Kyle Young tied the game at 57 with 90 seconds to go.
Not a soul was seated in the Schottenstein Center. Young grabbed another bucket and Ohio State took a 59-57 edge.
“He’s getting his energy back,” Holtmann said. “He played off of other guys. He finished around the rim. Defensively I thought he was good when he was on Oturu. He’s slowly but surely getting his energy back [after injury].”
Carr drove to the basket and finished once more. 38 seconds remained, the game was tied at 59.
That was before the final sequence that finished off the Buckeyes.
Notably absent from Ohio State’s first half offensive attack was team leading scorer Kaleb Wesson, who failed to make ball meet net in the opening 20 minutes.
He opened his second half with a dunk, then missed his next three shots en route to a two-point, 1-for-10 shooting performance. Wesson did manage to secure 14 rebounds.
“He had a couple around the basket that I’m sure he would like to make, that he normally would,” Holtmann said. “He created a lot of opportunities for other guys because of the attention they were giving him. It was a tough floor game, but overall I was really pleased with Kaleb’s effort.”
Walker pulled Ohio State away initially by sparking 6-0 run late in the first half, draining a catch-and-shoot 3 before his teammates followed with three free throws to set the Buckeye edge at 30-23.
Carr responded with two free throws, freshman guard D.J. Carton hit a 3.
Walker knocked home a buzzer-beating pull-up 2 to give the Buckeyes a 37-28 advantage at halftime.
The Golden Gophers scored five points in the final six minutes of the half, including a run of over five minutes with just two.
“In some ways we took a step forward,” Holtmann said. “Right now we’re just not good enough in enough areas to win in this league.”
There was another 6-0 first-half run Walker ignited.
With Ohio State trailing 15-10 in the first half, the Schottenstein Center fell into a light slumber as the Buckeyes’ January struggles trudged on.
After two free throws by freshman forward E.J. Liddell, Walker knifed through Minnesota’s defense, stabbing the crowd awake with a lay-in.
Washington added a layup of his own, capping a 6-0 run to shift the lead to 16-15 Ohio State.
Carr responded with a layup, Washington hit a 3 to extend the lead again to 19-17.
None of it was enough to hold off the Golden Gophers, however.
Ohio State hopes to prevent another losing streak from starting by responding to its back-to-back losses at Northwestern Sunday at 6:30 p.m.
“You just gotta take it on the chin and get to the next game,” Young said. “The game’s over, there’s nothing we can do about it now.”