COLUMBUS, Ohio – Usually, the two certainties at Ohio State each winter are snow and a win whenever Northwestern comes to town.
For 37 minutes that certainly wasn’t the case Thursday night.
Deshaun Thomas, a former Bishop Luers star, scored 11 of his 22 points in the last 7 minutes and the 13th-ranked Buckeyes used a late 12-0 run to hold off the short-handed Wildcats 69-59.
It was their 32nd consecutive home win against the Wildcats, dating to Feb. 24, 1977 – when another big underdog, Rocky, would win the Oscar for best picture and Jimmy Carter was in the White House.
But it certainly didn’t come easy.
I’m not one for big meetings and speeches, Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. I just said, You guys have been in a lot of situations where you’re underdogs and no one thought you had a chance. Go out there and play your tails off and if you do that, you get people’s respect.’ I thought they did that.
They certainly did.
The Wildcats (13-12, 4-8 Big Ten), with just seven healthy scholarship players, led by six points in the first half, by four with under 7 minutes left and were dead even with a ranked opponent on its own court with just over 3 minutes remaining.
We got down five there at 48-43, but I told the players, You can’t panic,’ Ohio State (18-6, 8-4) coach Thad Matta said. It was all going to come down to our defense.
The defense did its job, limiting the Wildcats – who were 11 of 26 on three-pointers – to no long-distance shots in the waning moments.
Thomas did the rest.
MINNESOTA 58, No. 20 WISCONSIN 53, OT: In Minneapolis, Andre Hollins hit the go-ahead three-pointer midway through overtime to finish with 21 points and lead the Gophers (18-7, 6-6 Big Ten), who have played three straight overtime games.
Sam Dekker scored 14 points and Ben Brust added 11 for the Badgers (17-8, 8-4).
No. 5 DUKE 77, VIRGINIA TECH 33: In Blacksburg, Va.. Elizabeth Williams and Haley Peters each matched their career high with 25 points apiece as the Blue Devils (23-1, 13-0 ACC) cruised to their seventh straight victory.
No. 7 MARYLAND 75, CLEMSON 45: In College Park, Md., Tianna Hawkins posted her 12th double-double of the season with 30 points and 12 rebounds as the Terrapins (20-5, 11-2 ACC) won their 13th consecutive games against the Tigers 6-18, 2-11).
No. 8 PENN STATE 81, IOWA 69: In Iowa City, Iowa, Maggie Lucas scored 21 points to lead the Nittany Lions (21-3, 11-1 Big Ten), who have won 15 of their last 16 games. Iowa (16-10, 5-7) has lost five straight.
No. 9 KENTUCKY 78, NO. 14 SOUTH CAROLINA 74: In Lexington, Ky., Kastine Evans hit two free throws with 8.8 seconds left as the Wildcats (22-3, 10-2 SEC) fought back from a 14-point halftime deficit. Jennifer O’Neill scored 19 points for the Wildcats.
No. 14 NORTH CAROLINA 76, WAKE FOREST 56: In Chapel Hill, N.C., Xylina McDaniel scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Tar Heels (23-3, 11-2 ACC) to their third straight victory.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE 76, No. 19 FLORIDA STATE 69: In Tallahassee, Fla., Kody Burke scored 26 points, tying her career high, to lead the Wolfpack (13-12, 5-8 ACC) to their first road win over a ranked team since 2006 Leonor Rodriguez scored 26 for Florida State (19-5, 9-4).
No. 20 DELAWARE 86, OLD DOMINION 62: In Newark, Del., Elena Delle Donne scored 26 points to lead the Blue Hens (21-3, 12-0 CAA) to their 16th straight win.