After dominating Penn State in recent years, Ohio State dropped their second game in a row to the Nittany Lions, suffering a 65-63 loss in State College on Thursday night. The Buckeyes were trying to spoil the senior night of Tim Frazier, but were unsuccessful as the elder statesman of Penn State basketball finished with 16 points while D.J. Newbill scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half to power Penn State.
Ohio State got off to a strong start against the Nittany Lions with Aaron Craft scoring five of the first seven points for the Buckeyes, followed by Sam Thompson making a three to make the score 10-2 early. Penn State helped out the Buckeyes early, committing turnovers on four straight possessions, but the Buckeyes were only able to extend the lead to 15-6 before Penn State started making a run of their own to close the gap to 15-11.
Aaron Craft was limited to only four minutes in the first half due to picking up two fouls, and one of those calls was a very questionable charge call. The Buckeyes did find some success with Craft on the bench for a while though, going on a 7-0 run once Craft exited to take a 22-11 lead. During that run the Buckeyes made a couple real nice plays to add to their lead. Shannon Scott made a tough pass in the lane while being guarded by two Nittany Lions to a driving Lenzelle Smith Jr, followed by Amir Williams splitting a double team for a layup to cap off the run.
Penn State wouldn't go away quietly, breaking off their own run that was punctuated by a slick Tim Frazier save along the sideline cross-court to a streaking D.J. Newbill for a dunk that had the Bryce Jordan Center rocking. The 10-3 run pulled Penn State to within 25-21, and caused Ohio State to call a timeout with just over five minutes left in the first half.
The last bucket of the first half came on a three-pointer by Tim Frazier just after Sam Thompson was add a highlight reel block to his ever growing highlight reel. Frazier finished the first half with nine points to lead Penn State, while Ohio State was paced by six points on two three-pointers from Sam Thompson. Not only was the scoreline tight, but most of the first half statistics were close as well. The only glaring difference on the stat sheet was Penn State was a little more active on the glass, out-rebounding the Buckeyes 19-12.
With Craft returning to the court at the start of the second half it looked like he was trying to make up for lost time early, drawing a charge on D.J. Newbill on Penn State's first possession, and then picking up the third foul on Ross Travis just a minute into the half. The point guard went on to convert the three-point play to put Ohio State up 33-28. That would be the biggest margin that Penn State would trail by the rest of the night, as Newbill was fouled by Sam Thompson on a three-point attempt just minutes later to even the score up at 33-33.
For most of the second half it looked like Penn State was about to start pulling away from the Buckeyes, but the Ohio State defense wouldn't let them extend the lead. The Nittany Lions led by as many as five points in the second half a number of times, including on three different occasions in the last two minutes. To Ohio State's credit they wouldn't go away even with the momentum looking like it was on Penn State's side.
The major catalyst in Ohio State's comebacks in the second half was LaQuinton Ross. The free throw line was kind to Ross throughout the night as scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half from the charity stripe to finish with 19 points in the ball game. The final two free throws that Ross hit pulled the Buckeyes to within 64-61 with just 32 seconds to go. On the inbounds Ohio State was able to force a turnover on a Shannon Scott steal and he would quickly dish the basketball off to Trey McDonald for a layup to close to within 64-63 with 27.4 seconds left.
The Buckeyes then fouled Ross Travis, who gave Ohio State by missing two free throws to allow Thad Matta's team to possibly hold for the last shot to win the game. Lenzelle Smith Jr had other plans though, getting an open look but bricking a jumper from just inside the three-point line. The Buckeyes were forced to foul Tim Frazier, who split two free throws to give Ohio State one last shot to either tie or win the game with six seconds to go.
With no timeouts remaining the Buckeyes quickly brought the basketball down the court where Smith Jr again took the shot, this time from behind the arc, but off target just like his attempt the possession before. The miss by Lenzelle secured a regular season sweep for the Nittany Lions over the Buckeyes. The two wins by Penn State were by the narrowest of margins, with the Nittany Lions beating the Buckeyes by a combined three points.
After seeing limited minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, had some similar issues in the second half. With 9:06 he picked up his fourth foul on what looked to be a jump-ball situation. Craft's regular defensive intensity wasn't what it normally was after picking up his fourth foul, not registering a steal in the game.The last couple minutes of the second half weren't the best for the senior though, as with the score 62-59 he had the basketball go off his foot and out of bounds for what would eventually be ruled Penn State basketball. After that Craft looked to pick up his fifth foul with just over a minute to go before it was charged to Ross. For the game Craft was able to reach double figures with 10 points.
The Buckeyes will now have to travel to Indiana on Sunday for a 4:00 PM tip against the Hoosiers. As the Buckeye game tonight was nearing an end the Hoosiers were tipping off against Iowa, who sit above the Buckeyes in the Big Ten standings, in the makeup of their game from last Tuesday that was postponed in Bloomington.
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