COLUMBUS, Ohio — Late missed opportunities, not getting stops, and poor three point shooting led to Ohio State’s 69-63 loss to Northwestern on Thursday night.
Ohio State extends its losing streak to five games and has now lost 10 out of its last 11 games. The Buckeyes had better stretches of play and made noticeable improvements at Michigan last Saturday, but were not able to convert that to a win against Northwestern on Thursday night.
Ohio State had a 47-45 point lead with seven minutes remaining, but it was all Northwestern from that point out.
Ohio State failed to score in the last three minutes of play until a slam dunk by Felix Okpara with 0.17 remaining, making it a 67-63 game. Northwestern made uncharacteristic turnovers and turned the ball over late, keeping the door open for the Buckeyes, but they didn’t have enough in them and faltered late, sealing the win for the Wildcats.
Ohio State committed 15 turnovers, were 14-of-22 from the free throw line, and made just one of 14 3-point attempts.
Freshman Brice Sensabaugh was quiet and scored his first points of the game on a jumper with 12:32 left to play. He finished with four points on 16 minutes of play and was 1-for-8 from the paint and 0-4 from behind the arc.
Veteran Justice Sueing led the Buckeyes with 19 points and eight rebounds. Bruce Thornton contributed another 12.
Ohio State opened the game playing with connectedness and had four assists on four made shots. The Buckeyes were moving the ball well early and were dominating at the rim. Buckeye guards were also getting the ball to the bigs more than the past few games. Ohio State attacked the paint and scored 18 of its 27 first half points from the paint.
But Northwestern also opened up stronger than the last time these two teams faced each other, when Ohio State went on a 20-2 run to take a big lead and finished with a 73-57 win on Jan. 1 in Evanston. It was an even bucket-for-bucket through the first 20 minutes of play.
In the first half of the game, Ohio State had the lead longer than Northwestern, out rebounded the Wildcats, and shot 12 percent better from the paint but a quick layup by Northwestern at the buzzer gave the Wildcats a 28-27 lead. It was the fifth game in a row where Ohio State trailed at halftime.
Northwestern found another contributor offensively in the second half and went on a 6-0 run to take a 51-47 lead, their largest lead of the half, at the under-8 media timeout. Isaac Likekele lost an opportunity for the Buckeyes to catch up with two missed free throws.
Northwestern held a comfortable 61-52 lead following a 7-0 run with 4:30 to play. Sueing drew a foul and hit two free throws to make it a 61-54 game. Ohio State forced a stop and a Northwestern turnover and on the other side of the court Sueing converted that to an And-1. With the crowd at The Schott on their feet, Sueing went the line again and missed both.
Following a quick five point spurt, Ohio State was still down 61-57 with 2:54 left. Northwestern drained a 3 to extend its lead to seven. Thornton made two free throws and Northwestern missed a 3 point attempt on the other end. A rebound was slapped to Northwestern and they dunked it to make the score 66-59. Sensabaugh hit two free throws, the teams traded shots and Northwestern iced the win with two made free throws.
Northwestern’s Boo Buie had 19 points and had a consistent presence on the court for the Wildcats. Buie made smart decisions and allowed for shots to open up late for the Wildcats. Brooks Barnhizer got hot late and contributed 19 points in their win.
Ohio State is 2-11 in games decided by single digits. Up next, Ohio State will host Michigan State on Sunday afternoon.
Photo via Ohio State Hoops Twitter.