(9) Ohio State 56

(22-4, 11-4 Big Ten)

Northwestern 53

(13-14, 5-10 Big Ten)

    8:00 PM ET, March 1, 2006

    Welsh-Ryan Arena, Evanston, Illinois

    1 2 T
    #9OSU 26 3056
    NW 24 2953

    Top Performers

    Ohio State: T. Dials 18 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    Northwestern: M. Hachad 11 Pts, 10 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    No. 8 Buckeyes eek out three-point win at Northwestern

    EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) -- Nothing was easy about Ohio State's victory that meant at least a share of the Big Ten regular season championship.

    The Buckeyes (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today; No. 9 AP) needed just about every second and every ounce of energy to escape with a 56-53 win over Northwestern on Wednesday night.

    How tough was it?

    "It ranks right up there," Ohio State guard Je'Kel Foster said.

    Buckeyes coach Thad Matta said, "That's one of the toughest games I've ever been involved in."

    Ron Lewis drove for a layup in the closing seconds and Terence Dials scored 18 points to lift Ohio State to its first championship since 2002.

    The Buckeyes (22-4, 11-4), who lead No. 10 Illinois and Iowa (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today; No. 23 AP) by a game in the standings, could win the title outright with a victory over Purdue on Sunday.

    Following a timeout with 30 seconds left, Lewis recovered a loose ball after teammate Jamar Butler lost his dribble. He eventually drove along the left side for a layup that made it 54-53 with 14 seconds left, passing up an open Dials on the block.

    Northwestern decided not to call a timeout, and Sterling Williams missed a driving layup.

    "Normally, I call a timeout in that situation," Wildcats coach Bill Carmody said. "I am taking responsibility for that. I saw a transition and Sterling going, and that is his strength. It looked like he was going to be able to get to the hole, but it just did not happen. I should have called a timeout."

    Lewis missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 1.5 seconds left. The Wildcats grabbed the rebound and called time out, but a long inbounds pass from Tim Doyle to Vedran Vukusic sailed wide and out of bounds along the sideline. Foster hit two free throws with one-tenth of a second left.

    "It looked like a kids' soccer game, with [everyone] chasing the ball around for awhile," Matta said.

    Dials was 9-of-12 from the field, grabbed seven rebounds and had two steals, and Foster added 10 points, six rebounds and six assists. Lewis had six points on 2-of-8 shooting but redeemed himself at the end.

    "If he had missed it, I think I would have been talking a little trash," Dials said.

    And Lewis might have heard it from his coach.

    Matta said the Buckeyes intended to "quick hit it" after the timeout. But Northwestern cut off Butler's passing angle. The ball came loose, and Matta considered calling time out. Instead, Ohio State got the go-ahead basket.

    "We got it in Ron's hands, and he made a tremendous drive," Matta said. "I told him he better make the shot because Terence was wide open down along the baseline."

    Vukusic scored 13 points and Mohamed Hachad added 11 points and 10 rebounds for Northwestern (13-14, 5-10), which closes the regular season at home Saturday against Minnesota.

    Matta thought his team "was a little bit nervous and scared," and Northwestern simply made matters as difficult as possible. The Buckeyes were never able to settle into a rhythm on offense.

    "That's a credit to them," Matta said.

    Seeking its first win over a Top Ten team in 12 years, Northwestern took a 49-48 lead when Williams hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 5:25 left. Butler immediately answered with a basket, but the Wildcats kept coming.

    Craig Moore hit a 3-pointer from the corner to tie it at 52 with 3:43 left, and Evan Seacat made one free throw to give Northwestern a one-point lead with 2:54 left. It remained a one-point game until the go-ahead sequence.

    That came after Seacat stepped out of bounds along the sideline with 54 seconds remaining. Dials rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Lewis, and Ohio State called the timeout with 30 seconds to play.

    "I've been focusing on rebounding a lot more the last couple of weeks," Dials said. "This was a game where offensive rebounds could win the game. ... I did everything I could to get the rebound."

    And now, Ohio State is in position to capture the league title outright, which may explain why the Buckeyes were rather subdued after the final buzzer.

    "I think our guys have a pretty good feel that there's still another game to play," Matta said. "I think that they understand that obviously we're elated to be co-champions ... but once again we've put ourselves in a big position to have the opportunity to win outright on our home court on senior day."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 56 53
    FG Made-Attempted 23-52 (.442) 21-46 (.457)
    3P Made-Attempted 6-24 (.250) 9-23 (.391)
    FT Made-Attempted 4-7 (.571) 2-6 (.333)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 11 (0/0) 13 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 8 3

    2005-06 Season

    Feb 18, 2006 @OSU 61, NW 52Recap
    » Mar 1, 2006 OSU 56, @NW 53Recap