For the first time in 40 years, Northwestern has beaten Ohio State at Columbus. The Wildcats (16-4, 5-2 Big Ten) escaped the confines of Value City Arena with a 74-72 win over Ohio State (12-8, 2-5) on Sunday afternoon.
Marc Loving brought Ohio State within two points when he tipped in a shot while getting fouled to make it a 72-70 game with 10 seconds left in the contest. Loving missed his ensuing free throw but the Buckeyes had multiple chances to get the rebound. Northwestern ultimately corralled the loose ball, however, and Scottie Lindsey sealed the Northwestern victory with two free throws.
The last time the Wildcats won in Ohio’s capital city was in 1977 when they beat the Buckeyes, 83-72, at St. John Arena.
“It’s been no secret, this has kind of been a house of horrors to us for a long time, especially since I’ve been here,” said Northwestern coach Chris Collins, who is in his fourth season at Evanston, Ill. “We haven’t had a lot of success in this building and our guys we really determined today to come out and try to make the plays necessary to get a win.”
Ohio State led for a majority of the first half. The Buckeyes’ largest cushion was six, which occurred four different times. JaQuan Lyle’s jumper at the 8:18 mark gave OSU a 23-17 cushion, the final six-point Buckeye lead of the opening period.
From there, Northwestern scored 10 unanswered points to go on top, 27-23, with 5:26 left in the half. Five different Wildcats contributed during the run, and six of the 10 points were scored in the paint.
Kam Williams, who had 10 points in the first half alone, answered with a 5-0 run of his own to give OSU a one-point lead 1:29 later. The junior guard followed a three-ball with a layup.
The Wildcats came right back with nine straight points, however, to regain the lead, 36-28, with just less than a minute remaining until halftime. That eight-point advantage was their largest margin of the first frame.
On Ohio State’s ensuing possession, Lyle knocked down a trey to make it 36-31 in favor of the visitors at the break.
The Buckeyes committed eight turnovers vs. the Wildcats’ three in the first 20 minutes. Northwestern scored 10 points off those OSU miscues while the Buckeyes didn’t have any off the Wildcats’ errors.
“The ones that killed us were (our) passes to them and they shot layups down there, that was a lot of it,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said of the blunders. “We allowed them to get some really, really easy baskets.”
Following halftime, OSU scored the first five points of the second half to even the contest at 36 apiece 1:12 into the period. Jae’Sean Tate had a layup and Loving finished an old-fashioned three-point play.
After that, it was a one-possession contest until Lindsey connected from long distance to put Northwestern ahead by five, 47-42, at the 13:59 mark. Ohio State answered with five free throws to knot things up at 47 a minute and a half later. Trevor Thompson split a pair of foul shots while Lyle and C.J. Jackson each converted both of theirs.
Neither squad led by more than three points for the next nine minutes. Northwestern eventually went up by five again when Isiah Brown had buckets on successive trips down the floor to give the Wildcats a 63-58 advantage. Brown's second basket came on a layup after he stole an errant Loving pass and had a wide-open lane to the hoop. Tate hit a corner three and split a pair of foul shots to bring Ohio State within one, 63-62, at the 1:41 mark.
Northwestern then made six straight foul shots to build a seven-point cushion. A three from Lyle and one from Micah Potter surrounded Bryant McIntosh's free throw and trimmed the visitors' lead to 70-68 with 24 seconds remaining in the contest.
Vic Law made it a four-point game with two freebies before Loving and Ohio State tried to complete the unlikely comeback.
Potter threw down a dunk on the game's last play to produce the final tally.
“I just think that at times we just weren’t locked in,” Tate said of why his team lost. “There were times in the game where we started a run but we just couldn’t capitalize. I think in the first half, at the end, we just didn’t work together as team and they got that little run. We just didn’t have it tonight.”
Four of Ohio State's five starters reached double figures. Tate led the team with 14 points while also grabbing six rebounds. Lyle was next with 13, which included going 5 of 7 from the foul line. Thompson added 11 and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds to record his sixth double-double of the year. And Williams finished with 10, going 0 for 4 from the field in the second half.
Loving was the lone starter to not post double figures in scoring. He had five points (2 of 8) and five rebounds.
Northwestern had three players score at least 10 points. Lindsey had a game-high 21 on 7-of-14 shooting, McIntosh poured in 17 while making 7 of 8 free throws and Law contributed 10.
The Wildcats finished the game with 17 points off 13 Buckeye turnovers. Ohio State had just six off eight Northwestern giveaways.
OSU did not help its cause from the charity stripe either, ending the contest with a 52.2 free-throw percentage (12 of 23). The opposition, meanwhile, went 19 of 24 from the line (79.2 percent).
“We had to keep getting the ball, we had to keep taking care of it and we had to keep making free throws and that’s what we did to finish the game,” Collins said. “I’m just really proud of my team.”
Looking ahead, the Buckeyes will stay in Columbus for their next game, as they host Minnesota (15-5, 3-4) on Wednesday evening.