WASHINGTON - Ohio State could not keep a relentless Rutgers team off the offensive glass, and fell to the Scarlet Knights, 66-57, Wednesday night in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
Rutgers (15-17, 3-15 Big Ten) held a 47-31 advantage in the rebounding department. The Knights corralled 19 offensive boards alone, and had 22 second-chance points to show for it.
"Nineteen offensive rebounds is a joke," said OSU head coach Thad Matta.
The Buckeyes (17-15, 7-11), meanwhile, had just seven offensive caroms and six second-chance points.
“As a unit, we didn’t care enough," said OSU junior forward Jae'Sean Tate. "Hats off to Rutgers for outplaying us. Twenty offensive rebounds (really 19), I mean, it’s unacceptable. They deserved to win. They worked for it. They outworked us, they punked us, so hats off to Rutgers.”
After OSU scored 15 of the game's first 20 points, Rutgers responded with a 13-2 run to take an 18-17 lead with 9:16 left until halftime. Three different Scarlet Knights - Issa Thiam, Nigel Johnson and Jonathan Laurent - hit a three during the stretch, which was capped by a Johnson jumper.
The Buckeyes then outscored the Knights, 15-11, the rest of the period to take a 32-29 lead into the locker room.
Rutgers began the second half with a 10-1 run to go in front, 39-33, at the 17:15 mark. Corey Sanders and Thiam each hit a triple during the spurt. Minutes later, OSU tied the Knights at 39 apiece when Marc Loving hit a three with 13:45 remaining.
From there, neither team led by more than two points until the Scarlet Knights opened up a 55-49 margin at the 5:59 mark when C.J. Gettys knocked down a jumper.
The Buckeyes cut it to two on a free throw from JaQuan Lyle, which made it a 55-53 game with 3:18 remaining. Exactly a minute later, however, Johnson connected from long distance to give Rutgers a 58-53 cushion.
OSU never got closer than four points the rest of the way.
"I don’t even know what words to say for how I feel right now," said OSU junior center Trevor Thompson. "It’s just frustrating to give a program their first-ever Big Ten tournament win. It’s just unacceptable, it really is. It’s just disappointing and I apologize to all the Buckeye fans and Buckeye Nation and Ohio State. This right here, this isn’t what you come to Ohio State for. This isn’t who we are.”
Tate led OSU with 18 points by going 6 of 8 from the floor and 6 of 11 from the foul line.
Johnson paced the Scarlet Knights with 21 points, making 5 of 11 field goals and all eight of his foul shots.
As a team, OSU shot 40.0 percent (18 of 45) from the field and 53.6 percent (15 of 28) from the foul line. Rutgers posted a 37.1 field-goal percentage (23 of 62) and a 68.4 free-throw percentage (13 of 19).
The Scarlet Knights' bench outscored the Buckeyes' reserves, 32-8, as well.
“We just didn’t come ready to compete, and the better team won the game tonight,” said Loving, who is a senior and very well could have played his last game in a Buckeye uniform.
Lyle noted that the squad played without key intangibles.
"I think sometimes we lack the passion and the heart," the sophomore said. "I think sometimes we’re ungrateful for the opportunities we have in front of us. Tonight was a prime example and we lost.”
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