Men's Basketball

Ohio State Comes Up Short, Falls to Illinois 77-74 in Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinal Game

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State’s Big Ten Tournament journey ends and its NCAA Tournament hopes become even more doubtful following a  77-74 loss to Illinois on Friday night in the quarterfinal game.

In a hard fought, back and forth game, the Buckeyes led for over 24 minutes of play but foul trouble and the physicality of the Fighting Illini pushed Illinois ahead.

Jamison Battle led with 21 points while Bruce Thornton had his first career double-double with 20 points and a career-high 10 assists. Felix Okpara had four points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks.

Ohio State trailed 25-18 and battled back to tie the game at 25, but trailed 31-29 at halftime. The game was tied at 71 following a free throw and Battle put the Buckeyes ahead on a 3-point shot with 1:44 left in the game.

Illinois’ Terrance Shannon Jr. and Coleman Hawkins hit free throws to give the Fighting Illini a 75-74 lead with a minute to play. Illinois got the offensive rebound on a missed 3 and Shannon Jr., with 11 seconds remaining, made it a 77-74 game. Battle attempted a 3 and missed and had one last attempt from half court, but it wasn’t enough.

Dain Dainja Illinois’ size and toughness posed problems for the Buckeyes around the rim, along with Ohio State having multiple starters in foul trouble through the second half. Felix Okpara and Evan Mahaffey fouled out with over four minutes to play. Ohio State had 27 personal fouls as compared to Illinois’ 13. Illinois made 21-of-32 attempts from the line whereas the Buckeyes were 10-of-13.

Dain Dainja and Shannon Jr. combined for 46 points for the Fighting Illini.

Photo via Ohio State Dept. of Athletics.