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NCAA

Ohio State’s Defensive Minded Effort Results In Victory

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Forward Kyle Young prepared all week to attempt to shake off a concussion and try to find a way back on the court after suffering a concussion on Mar. 1.

“I made a big jump, just after waking up a few of those days, and I felt really good,” Young said. “I was able to get through all the protocol. And I’m feeling really good, and the doctors cleared me. So it was a tough process getting back into the swing of things in terms of conditioning, stuff like that. It feels amazing to be back out there with these guys and being able to play again.”

With Young and Zed Key back on the court, the seventh-seed Buckeyes found an extra gear, beating Loyola Chicago 54-41 Friday afternoon at PPG Paints Arena.

E.J. Liddell led all scorers and recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Malaki Branham would add 14 points of his own, and Kyle Young finished with nine points and seven rebounds.

As a team, Ohio State won the paint battle 26-14 and prevailed 41-31 in rebounds.

“We knew we were in for a rock fight, and that’s very much what it was,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “So our guys deserve great credit. They really competed on both ends and were able to break away just when we needed to. Players win games, and those guys did a great job with that.”

Loyola was paced by Braden Norris’s 14 points, which included four successful three-point shots.

“I don’t want this game to define a lot of these guys’ career that have been part of our program that are now going to be obviously not playing college basketball anymore,” Loyola coach Drew Valentine said. “These guys have been the latest edition of the players that have helped elevate this program. Obviously it needs to hurt. I was at a loss for words after coming into the locker room because there’s so many different emotions”

It was a defensive oriented first half as both teams struggled to find the basket with any consistency.

In the early going, Loyola held Ohio State without a basket for the first four-plus minutes, but the Buckeyes would consistently be able to find answers coming out of extended breaks.

A Young dunk five seconds into the next segment of play broke the ice and keyed a 5-0 run as Loyola was then held scoreless for four-plus minutes.

Loyola began to make several miscues leading to Ohio State being able to successfully convert uncontested dunks out of the sequence. While the Buckeyes were limited to nine points off turnovers, these plays were crucial in giving them some momentum.

Following the first media timeout, Ohio State began to dictate play as Thomas continued to find the basket and Branham nailed three jump shots before halftime.

Down by nine points with just over two minutes to play, Loyola took its first free throw of the afternoon, and then defensively held Ohio State scoreless.

A Norris three-point shot brought Loyola to within 23-18 come halftime.

Ohio State opened the second half on a 6-0 run with Liddell accounting for four of those points. When Young buried a hook shot, Valentine called a timeout in an effort to get his team to reset.

“We try to hang our hat on being the more physical team, setting the rules,” said Young. “When you have a team coming in that’s going to do the same thing, it’s just that much more of a challenge. So we love that type of challenge, and we just have to respond.”

From there, Loyola would struggle to string baskets together and when it was up for the task of finding the basket, Ohio State would reply right back.

What stunted Ohio State from breaking the game wide open was a 1-for-15 performance on its three-point shots.

On the other side of the court, Loyola’s efforts were not helped by a 3-for-10 performance from the free throw line. The Ramblers entered play shooting 71.9% from the charity stripe.

Ohio State has advanced to the second round where it will await either Villanova or Delaware.

For Loyola it will now transition into the Atlantic 10 Conference, meaning a lot of Pittsburgh area basketball fans will get used to seeing more Ramblers basketball.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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