Rapid reaction: Ohio State's second-half rally falls short in NCAA Tournament loss to Villanova
Ohio State’s 2021-22 season comes to a close with a Round of 32 loss to No. 2-seed Villanova. The No. 7-seed Buckeyes rallied in the second half, but the comeback ultimately fell short as OSU went cold late in a 71-61 loss.
Villanova led by 11 points at the half (39-28) and increased its lead to 15 in the second half. The Buckeyes, however, hung around and battled back.
OSU was on a 6-0 run to get it back to single digits (49-38) when the Wildcats called timeout with 13:36 remaining. At the next timeout (11:43 under-12 media timeout), it was back up to a 12-point game at 55-43 Villanova.
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Ohio State made a late charge. A Malaki Branham 3-pointer made cut it to 55-49 with just under 10 minutes left. The Buckeyes were without Kyle Young for much of the final 8 minutes of the second half. Young, who made a key block at the 9:20 mark, was taken to the locker room after a hit to the head. The CBS broadcast confirmed Young wouldn’t return in the final 3 minutes.
The Buckeyes were on a 15-5 run when they get it all the way down to 60-58 with 5:41 left in the game. After getting it down to 2 points, though, Ohio State went cold from the floor at the worst time. Zed Key made a free-throw at the 4:09 mark, but otherwise, it was a scoring drought until Branham made a layup with 58 seconds left.
Branham was the game’s leading scorer with 23 points. Villanova was led by Collin Gillespie (20 points) and Jermaine Samuels (17 points). The box scores were largely similar, with the Wildcats shooting slightly better (44.2 % to 42.1%), getting to the foul-line more (17-of-20 free throws to 6-of-11) and committing fewer turnovers (12-9). The Buckeyes won the rebound battle 35-31.
There was one tie, but OSU never led in the game. Ohio State’s 2021-22 season ends with the Buckeyes going 20-12 overall with a 4th-place regular-season finish in the Big Ten.