You’re not supposed to win games when there’s less than a minute to go and your team is down by 8 points. However, Ohio State aren’t made of the quitting material, and somehow made things go their way, resulting in a memorable 64-61 win over Notre Dame, with the Irish probably still wondering what exactly went wrong in that ending.
The Buckeyes remain undefeated at 12-0, and it’s not quite sure who they have to thank for it. The team trapped, while Notre Dame players made some awful mistakes down the stretch in a minute of effort and full court press on one side, while the other makes unbelievable mistake, one after the other, completely losing their head as the game slipped away from their fingers.
I don’t really know what happened. It was a big blur. We never stopped. We never gave up. Guys were running around getting tips and guys made big free throws. I’m still trying to figure out what happened. My mind was fixated on if we wanted to foul with the time situation or do we play it out defensively and all of a sudden it was closer and closer and closer and we get the lead. It happened quick, It was a great win.
So Aaron Craft and Thad Matta don’t really remember, but this is how it happened, more or less: LaQuinton Ross hit a jumper with 52 seconds to go, pushing the lead down to six (58-52). Notre Dame turn the ball over on the inbound pass, as Lenzelle Smith comes up with the steal and the layup. The same thing happens again, as Shannon Scott comes up with the steal and gets fouled, knocking both shots from the line. We’re at 40 seconds to go, 58-56 Notre Dame.
Demetrius Jackson goes to the line and hits both shots for the Irish, now four points ahead, 39 seconds to go. Pat Connaughton makes a foolish foul on a 3-point shooting Lenzelle Smith, sending him to the line for three shots. Smith was 0-3 from beyond the arc in the game, but is a 44% 3-point shooter this season. He made all three shots, bringing Ohio State to within 1 point. Ohio State immediately foul Steve Vasturia, who misses the free throw, giving Ohio the opportunity to take the lead, with Lenzelle Smith getting a nice assist for Aaron Craft to go up by one point, 16 seconds left.
Jerian Grant turns the ball over with 10 seconds left, although some thought Aaron Craft fouled him (he didn’t). Lenzelle Smith once again goes to the line, knocking down two shots to pretty much end the game. Notre Dame had a chance with one second left to tie the game, but Demetrius Jackson didn’t have a good enough shot, and ended up losing for the 4th time this season.
Ohio State’s defense and will power is what pushes them forward. Aaron Craft oozes leadership and a relentless force to not lose. Lenzelle Smith needed a lot of time to wake up, but did well in the end. LaQuinton Ross, with 16 points and 11 rebounds, was the only player who actually played well throughout the game and not just in the crazy finish. Ohio State aren’t a team that plays slick and well enough for 40 minutes in order to make them national title favorites, but it’d be impossible to count them out just because they play ugly.