Buckeyes Pull Off Christmas Miracle in the Big Apple
By Rob Ogden
Madison Square Garden has seen some remarkable finishes over the years. Few could live up to what transpired Saturday night.
Down 58-50 with less than a minute to go, Ohio State rallied to beat Notre Dame 64-61 in the culmination of the Gotham Classic in New York.
Senior Lenzelle Smith Jr, who came into Saturday having scored in double figures in each of his past seven games, had zero points after 39 minutes of play, but Smith scored 9 points in the final 45 seconds to help lift the Buckeyes to the unlikely win.
File photo by Dan Harker
Junior LaQuinton Ross brought the Buckeyes to within 58-52 with 52 seconds remaining and then Smith forced a turnover on after the inbound and laid the ball in for his first points of the game.
Shannon Scott had a steal on the ensuing inbounds and made two free throws to pull Ohio State with two.
After a pair of Demetrius Johnson free throws for the Fighting Irish, Smith went to the line and made three after being fouled on a three-point attempt.
Notre Dame freshman Steve Vasturia missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 31 seconds to play. It was his first free throw attempt of the season.
Another layup by Smith on the Buckeyes' next possession gave Ohio State its first lead since the 11:22 mark of the second half.
He added another pair of free throws to finish with 9 points.
Before the 14-3 run to end the game, the Buckeye offense had been lethargic for nearly all of the second half, as they struggled to break through Notre Dame's zone defense.
After a Ross layup at the 14:28 mark of the half, Ohio State didn't make another field goal attempt until there was only 5:18 remaining in the game.
Ohio State led 33-26 at the half, but Notre Dame tied the game at 35 little more than two minutes into the second half.
The Buckeyes didn't make a single 3-point attempt after halftime, missing on all 9 attempts, and finished just 3-of-18 from beyond the arc for the game.
Ohio State shot only 34.5 percent from the floor in the half.
Ross, who is averaging more than 17 points in his past seven games, scored a team-high 16 Saturday night, and had 11 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
Amir Williams had 13, and Scott and Aaron Craft each added 10.
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