Ohio State held a one-point lead over Fairleigh Dickinson at halftime but outscored the Knights, 18-2, in the first five-plus minutes of the second half to earn a 70-62 win Saturday evening at Value City Arena.
The Buckeyes (7-1) made 11 shots in the first half, but committed nine turnovers as well. FDU (2-5) cashed in 12 points off those giveaways to trail, 33-32, at the break.
Ohio State came out aggressive to start the second half, however, scoring 10 fast-break points to help build a 51-34 lead at the 14:34 mark. The Buckeyes forced four turnovers during the run.
“That’s always our game plan, is to run and to get fast-break points because our defense can create a lot of fast-break opportunities,” OSU junior center Trevor Thompson said.
FDU cut it to six with less than a minute to play but sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle knocked down two free throws to seal the win.
Knights head coach Greg Herenda was pleased with how his team played for a majority of the game, but said the first few minutes of the second half was the difference.
“Coming in here today, we had to be really specific about what we had to do and we were for, I would say, 32 minutes of the game," Herenda said. "The eight minutes that we didn’t, Ohio State was good enough and coached very well enough to stretch the lead and made it difficult.”
OSU junior guard Kam Williams, who had 17 points, said how the team played to open the second half represents the potential it has.
“We played a lot harder in that stretch,” Williams said. “We were helping each other out and I feel like when we put that together we’ll be a heck of a team, no doubt about it. But we just got to learn how to put it all together. We just got to put it together for two halves and just complete a basketball game.”
Senior forward Marc Loving made 54.5 percent of his shots (6 of 11) to lead the Buckeyes with 18 points. Junior forward Jae’Sean Tate had 12 points and 12 rebounds to record his third double-double of the season.
Thompson had his first double-double of the season (10 points, 13 rebounds) and also had five blocks.
Junior guard Darian Anderson led FDU with 17 points, making three triples and going 6 of 6 from the foul line. The Knights finished the game shooting 39.3 percent (22 of 56) from the field.
“Statistically, it doesn’t look bad but ... at the start of the second half we got out, we got transition, we got running and then all of sudden we just sort of stopped,” OSU head coach Thad Matta said. “That was one of the things coming out of the (Virginia) game we said, ‘Hey, we want to have a constant thrust on the basket.’ We got to keep hammering it.”
Ohio State will welcome Florida Atlantic to town Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. (ET) tip.