|Notre Dame's Demetrius Johnson stopped by Ohio State's stifling defense. (Photo courtesy of The Ohio State University)|
Ohio State stunned Notre Dame in the final two minutes to pull out a 64-61 win on Saturday night in the Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Notre Dame looked like they were on their way to a big victory when Jerian Grant hit a three-pointer with 1:58 left to give them a 58-50 lead. It stayed that way until there were 48 seconds left and Ohio State's Laquinton Ross got a layup that started a major run. On the inbounds, Notre Dame's Demetrius Jackson turned it over, leading to a Lenzelle Smith, Jr., layup. Incredibly, Ohio State forced another turnover, and Shannon Scott got a layup, and all of a sudden it was a two-point game, at 58-56 with 41 seconds left.
Ohio State fouled Jackson on the inbounds pass and he hit two free throws to make it a four-point game. Ohio State went back down the floor quickly and Smith, Jr., attempted a three from the corner, and he was fouled with 32 seconds left. He went to the line for three free throws and made all of them. Smith, Jr., then hit a layup with 16 seconds left to make it 60-59 Ohio State with 16 seconds left.
Notre Dame had plenty of time to attempt to win the game, and Grant found an opening and drove the lane, only to have the ball stripped and he, in turn, fouled Smith, Jr., sending him back to the line where he made two more free throws to make it 63-60. Notre Dame had 10 seconds, still plenty of time to make something happen. The Irish got the ball in with ease, no rare feat in this chaotic final minute, and Grant raced up the court. After Grant passed the halfcourt line, he was body checked by Aaron Craft, sending him to the line, where he missed one of two free throws.
Notre Dame had to foul immediately, but it took four seconds to foul Craft, so he went to the line with three seconds left. Craft went to the line and hit the first free throw to make it 64-61, and missed the second, leaving the door open for Notre Dame to tie it. Demetrius Jackson had a nice look from the side, and he just missed a three that would have tied it as time expired. What Ohio State did was quite remarkable in the final 48 seconds. They scored 14 points, made eight of nine free throws, and forced three turnovers.
Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey said of the loss, "We're going to move forward fast because we don't have much time to dwell on it. I loved how my team played in the second half to give ourselves a chance against a really good team in what was a road atmosphere. I didn't see much blue and gold, saw a lot of red and white, even though I thought this was a Notre Dame town. Hard one...Hard one to live with." Brey said of the last two minutes, "You have to give them (Ohio State) a lot of credit; that a great defensive team. They really turned the heat up on us, flustered us. Quite frankly, I was impressed how we got into an offensive rhythm to give us the lead because we had a hard time doing anything offensively (in the first half)."