They weren’t exactly on their game for large stretches, allowing Central Connecticut State to hang around for about 25 minutes but Ohio State had more than enough juice to defeat the Blue Devils 74-56 tonight in the Schott.
Ohio State placed three in double figures led by another strong performance from LaQuinton Ross who totaled a career high 23 points on 9/13 shooting. Lenzelle Smith Jr added 17 points and Amir Williams chipped in 11 and three blocks as the Buckeyes improved to 8-0.
The Buckeyes lead just 49-41 with 13:52 left but put the game on ice with a 12-2 blitz that pushed the lead to 61-43 with just over eight minutes left in regulation.
Quiet to that point, the defense stepped up to fuel the spurt with Amedeo Della Valle grabbing a steal that produced a Smith Jr. dunk, a Sam Thompson steal yielding an Aaron Craft layup, a shot clock violation leading to a Ross bucket followed by a steal and dunk from LaQuinton.
Though the wings struggled to contain dribble penetration and were slow to rotate, the defense still racked up 20 turnovers. Offensively, Ohio State shot 52% from the floor but just 24% from distance (4/17).
Ohio State opened the game on a 20-6 spurt behind 13 combined points from Ross and Williams but after Central Connecticut switched to zone and Thad went to the bench, the Blue Devils responded with a 17-8 run of their own to cut the lead to 28-23 with 4:30 left in the half.
Continuing the theme of runs, OSU countered with a quick 8-0 burst sparked by a triple from Lenzelle and an and-1 from Ross pushing the lead to 36-23 but defensive lapses late allowed CCSU to cut the lead to 38-29 at intermission.
Ohio State shot a respectable 48% from the floor in the opening 20 minutes but assisted on just four of 14 field goals as they struggled with ball movement against the zone. Defensively, they didn’t have it going as they continuously allowed penetration in the lane. As a consequence, CCSU shot 52% from the floor and while they turned it over 12 times, much of that was the product of sloppy offense, not great defense.
Next up for the Buckeyes, a Wednesday night tilt with Bryant University at 7:30 p.m. in Value City Arena.