Roddy Gayle Buckeyes

Foul-Ridden Buckeyes Fall Short To Illinois 77-74 In Big Ten Tournament

The Buckeyes’ Big Ten Tournament is over as 2nd-seeded Illinois (24-8, 14-6) downed 10th-seeded Ohio State (20-13, 9-11) 77-74 thanks in part to a 27-13 foul disparity and 32 free throw attempts compared to just 13 for the Buckeyes.

All-Big Ten guard Terrence Shannon led all scorers with 28 points, including 10 points from the free throw line. Shannon played the final 6:28 of the game with four fouls. He scored nine points over those final six-plus minutes, capping it with a pair of free throws to give Illinois their final 77-74 score with 11 seconds left in the game.

Illinois center Dain Dainja scored 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds in 20 minutes of play. He was whistled for two fouls.

Forward Jamison Battle led the Buckeyes with 21 points and was one of four Ohio State players with at least four fouls. Battle missed a tough three-pointer on OSU’s final possession that would have tied the game in the waning seconds.

Ohio State Point guard Bruce Thornton scored 20 points and handed out a career-high 10 assists. Starting forward Evan Mahaffey and starting center Felix Okpara both fouled out.

After not scoring in the first half Thursday night against Iowa, Battle scored the first two points of the game with a turnaround jumper. A step-back three-pointer and a layup from Thornton gave OSU a 7-4 lead early on.

Illinois’ first lead of the game came on a layup by Dainja, giving the Illini a 16-15 lead at the 12:43 mark of the first half. The lead grew to 25-18 following a pair of Dainja free throws. Ohio State then responded with a 9-0 run featuring baskets by four different Buckeyes.

Trailing 31-29 at the half, Battle again got the scoring started with a jumper to tie things up at 31-31 on OSU’s first possession of the second half. A three-point play by guard Roddy Gayle and a step-back three from Thornton quickly made it 37-31 Buckeyes.

Illinois All-Big Ten guard Marcus Domask’s first basket of the game came from three, cutting Ohio State’s lead to 38-36 with 16:32 to play. The Buckeyes kept attacking, however, building a 56-46 lead with 11 minutes to play. Illinois responded with baskets from Dainja and Shannon, cutting the lead to 57-54 in less than two minutes.

A free throw from Dainja finally tied the game up at 59-59 with 7:41 remaining, but the Buckeyes answered, building up a five-point lead as Battle and Shannon started trading free throws.

Dainja again tied the game with free throws at the 2:22 mark, but Battle again answered, this time with a step-back three to give OSU a 74-71 lead with 1:44 left. Four free throws by Shannon and and forward Coleman Hawkins secured the Illinois lead which Ohio State could never overcome.

The Buckeyes now wait to find out their postseason fate. It was widely believed that they needed this win just to have a chance at being on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

The NCAA Tournament bracket will be revealed on Sunday.

[Roddy Gayle header photo courtesy of the Ohio State Dept. of Athletics.]

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