COLUMBUS – Northwestern got within one point late but No. 21 Ohio State put the game away on a 10-0 run to beat the Wildcats. After losing at Northwestern in December by one point, the Buckeyes held on and pulled through in the end to get the 81-71 win at home on Wednesday night.
“This is the most proud I’ve been of our team the entire year,” Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said following the game.
Ohio State had a comfortable lead until Northwestern went on an 8-0 run in the second half to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to five. The Scarlet and Grey had just secured their largest lead of the game, leading the Wildcats 53-40 with just under 15 minutes remaining in the game. A pair of 3’s by the Wildcats sent them on a run and Ohio State’s lead remained in the single digits until under 10 minutes.
Northwestern then went on another 8-0 run with just over four minutes remaining the game. In the last four minutes, everything changed. A 3-pointer from Justin Ahrens gave the Buckeyes the momentum they needed to pull away. Ohio State responded with a 10-0 run to close the game.
Ahrens finished the game with 12 points, shooting 4-of-5 from the paint and 4-of-5 from 3.
“That was the biggest shot of his career,” Holtmann said.
It was a matchup between guards early on. Northwestern’s Chase Audige, who averages 11 per game, scored 15 points early in eight minutes of play. Ohio State’s Duane Washington Jr. also heated up early and had 11 of his own as a response just 8:27 into the game.
Ohio State took a lead at 18-17 after Audgie and Washington Jr. went back and forth and the Buckeyes held the lead for the remainder of the first half.
At halftime the Buckeyes were leading Northwestern 42-33. Audige had 21 first-half points while besides him, as a team, the Wildcats were 0-11 from the paint. Washington Jr. almost reached his career-high of 22 points with his 17 in the first half of this game. He finished the game setting a new career-high of 23 points.
Without guards C.J. Walker or Jimmy Sotos, Justice Sueing played as a true point guard. It was his first game of his career playing guard. Sueing had 13 points, seven rebounds, and shot 5-of-9 from the floor.
Kyle Young also had a great game and racked up 12 points and nine rebounds.
Though E.J. Liddell was held scoreless for the first half and only had six points to finish the game, all of which were from free throws, he had 10 rebounds.
Meechie Johnson gave solid minutes and scored his first bucket as a Buckeye, a shot from behind the arc.
Northwestern took advantage of Ohio Sate’s 11 turnovers capitalizing for 16 points. Northwestern only had four turnovers that led to four points for the Buckeyes. But good defense from the Buckeye frustrated Northwestern and it struggled to shoot the ball from long range. Ohio State was 10-25 from three for 40 percent and Northwestern only made six of 23 attempts for just 26 percent.
Ohio State improves to 10-3 overall and 4-3 in the Big Ten. Northwestern falls to 6-5 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten. It extends an 0-3 losing streak in conference play.
Up next the Buckeyes travel to face Illinois on Saturday at 12:00 Noon.
[Photo via Ohio State Hoops Twitter.]