COLUMBUS — No. 7 seed Ohio State’s season ends with a 71-61 loss to No. 2 seed Villanova on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Villanova was up by as many as 15 but the Buckeyes went on a 15-5 run with a 3-pointer from Jamari Wheeler to bring the score to 60-58 with 5:30 remaining, the closest since 9-7 at the start of the game.
Ohio State came out of the under-4 timeout down five. E.J. Liddell missed the front end of a one-and-one, turned the ball over over, Malaki Branham had a good look but missed a 3, and Zed Key was called for a moving screen and turned the ball over. Villanova’s Eric Dixon drilled a wide-open 3 to make it an eight point Villanova lead with 1:27 remaining in regulation.
Ohio State held the ball with one minute remaining and made its first shot in over 3:09. But Villanova, the best free throw shooting team in the country was sent to the line. The Buckeyes’ hopes began to crumble as time wound down.
Ohio State was making stops defensively down the stretch, forcing Villanova to miss nine out of 11 shots late in the second half, but it couldn’t get it done on offense.
Villanova controlled the game for the entirety of the first half, Zed Key’s physicality made a big difference late in the second half. He had 11 rebounds in the second half of the game alone.
Liddell and Branham combined for 40 of Ohio State’s 61 points with 17 and 23 respectively. Branham led all scorers.
The Buckeyes desperately needed another shooter. Kyle Young contributed six points, Eugene Brown III had five, Jamari Wheeler and Meechie Johnson Jr. had three each, and Key had four.
Villanova had four players in double-figures.
The Buckeyes finish the season 20-12 and 12-8 in Big Ten play.
Photo via Ohio State Buckeyes