Towson Puts Up Fight, But Buckeyes Pull Away To Notch Third Straight Win, 85-74

By Griffin Strom on December 8, 2021 at 11:06 pm

It was an easy game to overlook on paper, and the Buckeyes may have been caught glancing ahead at times against a tough Towson team.

Ohio State left the Schottenstein Center with a third straight win on Wednesday, but the 85-74 victory over the unranked Tigers was not all smooth sailing for the Buckeyes. Ohio State held just a one-point advantage over the underdog Tigers at halftime, and couldn’t mount a double-digit lead until midway through the second half.

Team 1 2 FINAL
#21 OHIO STATE 33 52 85
TOWSON 32 42 74

But despite a big night from Tiger guards Cam Holden and Jason Gibson that helped Towson stay within single digits late, the Buckeyes proved to be too much down the stretch. Three-point sharpshooter Justin Ahrens scored 10 straight points for the Buckeyes at one point, hitting three triples in a row and converting a four-point play during a key period in the second half.

Kyle Young led the way with 18 points for Ohio State, Ahrens had 16 on 5-for-10 from the floor and the Buckeyes finished the night shooting well above 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from the 3-point line. The Buckeyes outrebounded Towson 19-6 in the second half, and finished with a 26-18 edge in the paint against an undersized Tiger team. 

Through the opening four minutes and change though, it looked as though it could be a quick and easy night for the Buckeyes. Ohio State got out to a 12-3 lead courtesy of a 10-0 run after the first Towson bucket, and it was a 3-pointer from Ahrens that gave the scarlet and gray a nine-point advantage at the 15:53 mark.

But the Tigers fired right back, scoring 20 of the next 25 points in the ballgame to take a 23-17 lead midway through the half. Towson went on an 11-0 run down from 12:24 to 9:24, and the Tigers held onto the lead until 1:06 remained in the first half. Zed Key split a pair of free throws to briefly give the Buckeyes their first lead in more than 11 minutes, but Towson knocked down a pair of its own on the very next possession to take back the advantage.

Key got the last laugh in the first half, knocking down a mid-range fallback jumper with seven seconds to give Ohio State a 33-32 edge, and the Tigers could not get another shot off before the horns sounded in Columbus. The Buckeyes shot nearly 17 percent better from the floor in the opening period, boasting a 56.5 percent clip, but the Tigers got five more shots off and won the offensive rebounding margin 5-1.

85 POINTS 74
27-47 (57.4%) FGM-FGA (PCT.) 24-55 (43.6%)
10-23 (43.5%) 3PM-3PA (PCT.) 12-28 (42.9%)
21-25 (84.0%) FTM-FTA (PCT.) 14-17 (82.4%)

Key led the Buckeyes with 11 points in the first half on 5-for-5 shooting, and E.J. Liddell added nine of his own through the first 20 minutes. But only six Buckeyes of the 10 that played in the period actually scored a point.

Towson stayed well within range of the Buckeyes early in the second half with a 3-point shooting barrage in the first few minutes, but Young’s second 3-pointer of the game on the other end allowed Ohio State some breathing room at the 14:27 mark. The Young three put the Buckeyes up 48-43, which was Ohio State’s largest lead since early in the first half. Young added to it with another three points 50 seconds later, but this time on a 2-point shot with a free throw thereafter due to a Towson technical.

The Buckeye lead ballooned to 10 points, the first double-digit lead of the game for Ohio State, at the 11:51 mark after a pair of buckets in the paint from Jamari Wheeler. Wheeler knocked down two free throws nearly two minutes later to extend the scarlet and gray edge to 13 points, but Towson still kept things interesting after that.

Every time the Tigers strung a couple shots together though, Ahrens seemed to answer with a 3-pointer on the other end to maintain the advantage for the Buckeyes. Ohio State closed the game out with six makes on its final seven shots.

Four Buckeyes finished with double-digit points, as Key poured in 13 and Liddell tallied 15 for Ohio State before the final buzzer sounded.

What’s next: Ohio State hosts No. 22 Wisconsin at noon Saturday in the second Big Ten matchup of the season for the Buckeyes.

Other Notes

  • Ohio State is 2-0 against Towson since at least 1949, with the Buckeyes’ last meeting with the Tigers being a 21-point win on Nov. 15, 2004. Current Buckeye director of professional development Terence Dials led all scorers with 23 points in the contest. The last meeting before that was a 97-86 win for the Buckeyes on March 15, 1991.
  • The Buckeyes were originally scheduled to play Towson during the 2020-21 season, but schedule rearrangements due to COVID-19 derailed the matchup before the start of the year.
  • Justice Sueing (abdomen) and Seth Towns (back) were both out again for the Buckeyes. Buckeye head coach Chris Holtmann said on his radio show Monday that both players would likely remain out for "weeks."
  • Jamari Wheeler, Malaki Branham, Justin Ahrens, E.J. Liddell and Zed Key started the game for the Buckeyes for the third straight game.
  • Eugene Brown made his first appearance for the Buckeyes since Nov. 18, when he suffered a concussion against Xavier.
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