The Buckeyes waded through an afternoon of back screens and backdoor cuts and eventually broke open a one-point game at the half to defeat the Big Green 71-58 before an announced crowd of 14,107 at Value City Arena.
"With the exception of them making some threes in the first half, I thought we played pretty well," said OSU coach Jim O'Brien. "In the second half, we did a better job on the threes. But overall I thought we played pretty good. I was happy with it."
O'Brien tweaked his starting lineup again, inserting mainstay Terence Dials for Matt Marinchick at power forward. Otherwise, he stuck with the lineup he used for Tuesday's win over Eastern Illinois. That group included bench players Nick Dials, Ugo Nwankwo and Shaun Smith in the backcourt alongside center Velimir Radinovic.
Once again, O'Brien moved some of his regular players into the game at the first TV timeout. But this lineup shuffle seems to have netted O'Brien and the Buckeyes with a new contributor in Nick Dials, a would-be walk-on from Willard, Ohio. Nick Dials followed up a nine-point game against Eastern Illinois by contributing nine points, three assists and three steals in a team-high 33 minutes. Dials went from not playing two weeks ago to having more minutes than anybody on the team -- by 10 minutes.
"I just keep working hard," Dials said. "I'm just trying to work hard in practice and work hard in the games. It feels good. This is why I came here, because I felt like I could contribute."
Tony Stockman came off the bench to lead the Buckeyes (7-4) with 15 points, hitting 5 of 7 shots from the floor. J.J. Sullinger added 10 points. Terence Dials contributed nine points and a team-high six rebounds, while Ivan Harris added nine points and four rebounds.
"I've been pretty inconsistent here early in the season," Sullinger said. "I have not played as well as I wanted to. I'm just trying to go out every day and get better."
Steve Callahan led Dartmouth (2-7) with 13 points, while Michael Lang had 12.
OSU opened a 10-6 lead to start the game on three-pointers by Nick Dials and Smith. Dartmouth grabbed an 11-10 lead on Lang's back door layup with 13:25 left in the first half.
The Buckeyes then went on a modest 10-3 run, which included a three-pointer from Stockman and five points from Harris, to go up 20-14 with 7:53 left in the half. But the pesky Big Green would not go away. They went on a 10-4 rally to tie the game at 24-24 on Lang's three-pointer in transition with 3:09 left in the half.
Ohio State moved ahead 30-26 on Sullinger's driving jumper in the lane with 1:38 left in the half. But Dartmouth trimmed the gap to 30-29 at halftime on Lang's trey with 13 seconds left.
OSU began to pull away with a 27-9 spurt that covered the first 11-plus minutes of the second half. O'Brien started Harris and Velimir Radinovic inside with Nick Dials, Stockman and Sullinger outside.
"We wanted to try and get a little lead," Stockman said. "We were trying to win the first five minutes. We wanted to be aggressive on offense and we also picked it up on defense. That helped us out a little bit."
The Buckeyes connected on three three-pointers during a two-minute stretch as Sullinger hit one from the top, Nick Dials fed Stockman and Sullinger found Dials. That flurry put OSU up 43-34 with 15:26 left in the half. The run continued with Harris scoring on a rebound, Dials hitting a three off a pass from Radinovic, a Shun Jenkins jam off a pass from Sullinger and a neat halfcourt alley oop from Brandon Fuss-Cheatham to Sullinger. Jenkins' layup off a feed from Dials put OSU up 57-38 with 8:58 left in the game.
Dartmouth got the lead down to 12 in the final two minutes, but that was as close the Big Green got again.
Ohio State hit 50 percent of its shots from the floor (24 of 48), including 8 of 17 on three-pointers. The Buckeyes outrebounded Dartmouth 35-21 and committed just 10 turnovers.
OSU hosts Maryland-Baltimore County Tuesday night (8 p.m., ESPN-Plus) before wrapping up nonconference play against Texas Tech next Sunday (1 p.m., ESPN-Plus).
"I think we need opportunities to keep getting better," O'Brien said. "I think it is good for us to have another game."