Good evening from Pittsburgh. Gonzaga gave Ohio State everything it could handle but the second-seeded Buckeyes made the key plays in the closing minutes to pull out a 73-66 win. Here's my game story, notebook, John Blanchette's column and Chris Anderson's photos.
But the rest of the Buckeyes, particularly sophomore point guard Aaron Craft, sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas and senior guard William Buford, made timely contributions as Ohio State held off Gonzaga 73-66 Saturday at Consol Energy Center.
“They have a lot of weapons,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We picked our poison. We wanted them to hit jump shots and cover down on the bigs. They did a great job stepping out and hitting them.”
Sullinger made two early 3s, the first requiring a favorable high bounce, but he sat out a good chunk of the half with two fouls. He was ineffective in the second half trying to power inside against 7-foot center Robert Sacre. Gonzaga went to a zone midway through the half and Sullinger continued to struggle to get good looks. With the game on the line, though, he scored six of his 18 points in the final 3:35.
“We made his job tough,” Sacre said. “He made some tough shots.”
Craft did what he tends to do: Play outstanding defense, run
“Those are frustrating because you think you do your job and he still gets a bucket on you or you don’t finish with a box out,” Hart said.
Guard Gary Bell Jr. said Buford had perhaps the best mid-range game Gonzaga has seen all season.
GU’s zone slowed down the Buckeyes’ offense.
“As we were preparing, by our calculation they had played 6 percent zone all season. I actually said to (assistant coach) Chris Jent, ‘Do we need to put in a clip for zone?’ ” coach Thad Matta said. “He said, ‘No, they won’t play zone.’ Fortunately we talked about it and put it on the board before the game. Our guys weren’t in shock.”
The loss brought an end to the Gonzaga careers of seniors Sacre and Marquise Carter.
“Fun, just fun,” Sacre said of his five seasons at Gonzaga. “It’s been a great growing experience and sometimes growing pains, but I love this program dearly.”
Junior forward Elias Harris said both will be missed.
“Rob has been there for me since Day 1. He’s really a family member, a brother,” Harris said. “Marquise had a huge impact last year and even though this season didn’t go the way he wanted he was still positive every single day at practice. That shows how strong of a person he is. I consider them two of my closest friends.”
Gonzaga wanted to force