Gonzaga handed Ohio State its first loss of the season in November, and on Saturday, the Bulldogs handed the Buckeyes their last.
While Ohio State’s first season with Chris Holtmann as coach surpassed all expectations, it came to an end on Saturday night, when the Buckeyes were defeated by Gonzaga, 90-84, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Idaho.
The Buckeyes rallied back from a 15-0 Gonzaga run to start the game, ultimately leading by as many five points in the second half, but their comeback effort came up short in the end.
Zach Norvell Jr. led Gonzaga with 28 points, while Rui Hachimura added 25 for the Bulldogs. Keita Bates-Diop led Ohio State with 28 points in defeat.
|#5 OHIO STATE||33||51||84|
Saturday’s game started off about terribly as it possibly could have for Ohio State, as the Buckeyes missed their first seven field goal attempts, committed four turnovers and Kaleb Wesson was called for a flagrant foul – his second foul in less than four minutes of game action – allowing Gonzaga to score the game’s first 15 points before Jae’Sean Tate finally scored Ohio State’s first three points with a shot beyond the arc, five minutes and 40 seconds into the game.
From there, though, the Buckeyes made four straight shots – with Kam Williams and Bates-Diop also dropping in 3-pointers – for an 11-4 run that cut the Zags’ lead to eight.
After that, the rest of the first half was more of a back-and-forth affair – with Ohio State never cutting the lead to less than seven, but also never trailing by more than 14 – but Gonzaga made six of its final seven shots before the break to take a 44-33 lead into halftime.
|30-66 (45.5%)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||31-58 (53.4%)|
|11-26 (42.3%)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||9-22 (40.9%)|
|13-16 (81.3%)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||19-31 (61.3%)|
The Buckeyes responded by opening the second half on a 13-4 run, with C.J. Jackson and Williams hitting 3-pointers on the Buckeyes’ first two possessions after the break, to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to two. After Gonzaga quickly extended the lead back to six, Jackson and Williams hit back-to-back buckets again – with Jackson hitting from beyond the arc again – to cut the Bulldogs’ lead down to one.
Ohio State finally took its first lead of the game with 10:35 to play, when Williams hit his third shot of the game from beyond the arc to put the Buckeyes ahead 56-54. Tate followed that up with a steal and a breakaway dunk, putting Ohio State ahead by four and prompting Gonzaga coach Mark Few to call a timeout.
The two teams traded a series of runs after that, with Ohio State opening up a five-point lead – 67-62 – on a 3-pointer by Bates-Diop with just over six minutes to play. But Gonzaga responded back with an eight-point run of its own to take a 70-67 lead into the under-four timeout.
Hachimura extended that lead to six with a three on the Bulldogs’ ensuing possession, prompting Holtmann to call a timeout. Tate responded with a layup to cut the lead to four, but Norvell extended the lead back to seven with a three of its own, leaving the Buckeyes in a three-possession hole with less than two minutes to play.
That proved to be the hole that would be too much for the Buckeyes to climb out from, and Gonzaga ultimately won the game by six.
The Bulldogs dominated the Buckeyes on the glass, outrebounding Ohio State 39 to 25, and made 53 percent of their shots for the game. Ohio State had four double-digit scorers – Williams scored 19 points, Jackson scored 18 and Tate scored 11 – but had just eight points from the rest of its team combined.
Despite Saturday night’s loss – the Buckeyes’ second loss to Gonzaga this season, having previously fallen to the Bulldogs in the PK80 Invitational on Nov. 23 – Ohio State finishes the year with a 25-9 record, its best record since the 2012-13 season, when the Buckeyes were eliminated in the Elite Eight.
Gonzaga advances to the NCAA Tournament's West Regional, where it will play the winner of Sunday night's game between No. 1 seed Gonzaga and No. 9 seed Florida State.