Some losses are easier to stomach than others and this one will stick in the mind of Thad Matta and his Buckeye team for quite some time. John Shurna hit a three-pointer with three seconds left in the game to help Northwestern erase a 12-point Ohio State lead and pull out a 72-69 win and snap Ohio State's 17 game winning streak against the Cats that went back to 1998.
Jon Diebler gave it his all has he had a career high 28 points on 8 of 10 shooting from beyond the three point arc but Northwestern went 52-percent as a team from three including 7-12 shooting from Craig Moore while Kevin Coble led NU with 26 points. B.J. Mullens had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds but the Buckeyes were not able to work it into Mullens nearly enough to take advantage of a size edge.
It was far from a happy homecoming for Chicago (Ill.) native Evan Turner who had eight turnovers to eclipse his 14 points and six assists.
The Buckeyes opened the game up to 12 points in the second half and it appeared that this game wouldn't fall into Northwestern's string of tough games but a 21-3 run for the Cats turned things around and knocked the Buckeyes on their heels.
Ohio State would all behind by six on several occasions but managed to keep it close. Diebler hit his eight triple of the night to take it to 49-46 and snap the NU run. The Buckeyes would take the lead at the five minute mark on a Mullens offensive rebound and put back 59-58.
Both teams would trade paint for the next three minutes and then the Cats would make another run and get up by five on a Moore triple at the 1:53 mark of the game. The Buckeyes would cut the gap on a William Buford triple, his only points of the game on 1-8 shooting.
Everything seemed to turn into the Buckeyes favor when Diebler came up with a big steal with less than a minute and would take it in for the uncontested lay-up and the game would be tied up at 69-all.
Everything came down the final possession and it appeared that the Buckeyes might escape a bad loss when the Cats missed a shot and the loose ball was up for grabs but the ball last touched a Buckeye and the Cats would have a final shot with 8.4 seconds left.
That is when Shurna came up with his big shot. The Northwestern forward was questionable for the game and was taking fluids through an IV for flu-like symptoms but it didn't stop him from draining a long triple when it mattered most with a little more than three seconds left.
Ohio State would get one more shot but the long pass got to Diebler too late and before the Buckeye leading scorer could turn and heave up a shot the clock expired and the Cats escaped with a win.
This loss is all the worse for the Buckeyes because Penn State upset the Fighting Illini in Champaign (Ill.) and have now climbed into fourth place in the Big Ten. Seeding is crucial for teams heading to Indianapolis (Ind.) in early March for the Big Ten tournament. The Buckeyes will be in action again on Sunday against the Illini at home.
Game Leaders
Ohio State – Diebler 28, Turner 14, Mullens 11
Northwestern – Coble 26, Moore 23, Shurna 9
Ohio State – Mullens 11, Turner 5, Buford 4, Diebler 4
Northwestern – Coble 4, Nash 3, Rowley 3
Ohio State – Turner 6, Simmons 5
Northwestern – Thompson 7, Moore 5