COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State continued its losing streak to three straight games and wound up back in the L column on Thursday night with a 70-67 loss against Minnesota at home, arguably its worst loss of the season.
Ohio State began the comeback late but couldn’t complete the task as mistakes and fouls plagued the Buckeyes. Freshman guard Brice Sensabaugh carried the team and made big time plays late, giving the Buckeyes opportunities to stay alive. A questionable call on a block attempt was the difference on Thursday night, but before that, it was all Minnesota.
“I thought they [Minnesota] played really well and deserved the win,” Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said following the loss. “We’re not playing well enough together and this was our poorest offensive game of the year.”
Minnesota went on a 12-2 run over six minute and as the game fell away from Ohio State and into to an 11 point Minnesota 64-53 lead with 5:02 left to play, Ohio State began its effort to complete a comeback win.
It was a 64-58 game led by Minnesota at the under-4 media timeout and it was going to take a lot to change the tides but Ohio State was able to get stops on defense. Minnesota was held scoreless from the paint for over four minutes as Ohio State went on a 7-0 run to bring it to a 60-64 game with 2:06.
The teams traded free throws through the last two minutes but freshman Brice Sensabaugh hit a 3 to make it a 67-65 game with 18 seconds left to play. Minnesota missed a shot and the Buckeyes had the ball with a chance to tie the game. Sensabaugh was fouled and made his first and then his second free throw to tie the game at 67 with 8.6 seconds remaining.
Bruce Thornton was called for a foul blocking the final shot on a drive by Ta’lon Copper who was sent to the line with one second remaining. He missed the first attempt from the line but Cooper made the second free throw attempt and the Buckeyes got the ball with 1.7 seconds left. Ohio State threw the ball away and 6-foot-11 Dawson Garcia hit two free throws to secure the 70-67 win for Minnesota.
Ohio State fought back but had one taken from them with a late foul. Despite that critical call, Minnesota, a team who hadn’t won a game in the Big Ten until beating the Buckeyes, controlled the game from the start.
Minnesota came into the game with the worst 2-point defense in the Big Ten but Ohio State struggled taking advantage of that early on in one of their worst offensive performances of the year. Minnesota took an early 11-6 lead after Ohio State’s poor shooting got the best of them. The Buckeyes made just seven of their first 21 shots from the paint. Ohio State didn’t hit a 3 until 9:45 remaining in the first half.
The Golden Gophers were hot shooting and continued to maintain the lead through the first half, shooting 61 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes of game play. Minnesota was better with its ball movement and the Buckeyes were missing open looks.
The Buckeyes had no answer for Minnesota’s Garcia who was a major contributor for the Gophers and made 10 consecutive shots for the shots midway through the first half. He leads Minnesota with an average of 14.6 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game but had his best scoring performance all season with 28 points.
The Buckeyes started out 6-of-11 in the second half and and made adjustments defensively but Minnesota still got up to an 11 point lead in the second half. The Buckeyes took their first lead since leading 2-0 at 13:03 left in the second half on a three point play from Sensabaugh but then went on a 2:28 scoring drought and gave up 10 unanswered points by the Gophers, leading to a nine point lead 60-51 at the under-8 media timeout.
Minnesota finished the game shooting 27-of-54 from the field, good for 50 percent and 32 percent from behind the arc. Ohio State shot just 38 percent from the paint making 24-of-64 attempts and was 46 percent from 3.
Photo via Ohio State Buckeyes.