MARCH 20, 2022
PITTSBURGH, Pa. (AP) – Collin Gillespie scored 20 points, Eric Dixon hit a big 3-pointer late and second-seeded Villanova fended off seventh-seeded Ohio State 71-61 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
The Wildcats (28-7) earned their eighth trip to the Sweet 16 under Jay Wright after surviving a second-half push from the Buckeyes (20-12), who trimmed a 15-point deficit to two before Villanova regained its footing.
Malachi Branham scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half. E.J. Liddell added 17 in likely his final game with the Buckeyes before heading to the NBA.
Villanova led wire-to-wire but there were some tense moments down the stretch. A 3-pointer by Ohio State’s Jamari Wheeler drew the Buckeyes within 60-58 with 5:39 to play. The Buckeyes got no closer.
Samuels hit a layup and Gillespie knocked down a pull-up jumper while Ohio State went cold.
When the Buckeyes tried to trap Gillespie in the post late, he found Dixon open at the 3-point line and the sophomore knocked down the shot to make it 67-59 with 1:38 left to end any chance the Buckeyes had of reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2013.
Ohio State missed six of its last seven shots after Wheeler’s 3 brought a portion of the scarlet-clad crowd that made the three-hour drive from Columbus to its feet.
The Buckeyes overwhelmed Loyola Chicago in the first round, smothering the Ramblers for 40 minutes while holding the NCAA Tournament darlings to just 41 points.
Gillespie scored 10 consecutive points on a pair of free throws, two 3-pointers and a steal and layup as Villanova needed less than eight minutes to build a double-digit lead on its way to a 39-28 halftime lead.
A layup by Jermaine Samuels made it 46-31 early in the second half before Branham and Liddell almost single-handedly brought the Buckeyes back.
Ohio State forward Kyle Young left with 8:55 to play after getting hit in the head. He did not return. He had missed the Big Ten Tournament while being in the concussion protocol.
- E.J. Liddell extended his streak of consecutive games in double figures to 43 games
- Liddell had a tremendous final game, finishing with 17 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks
- Freshman Malaki Branham led all scorers with 23 points to go along with a game-high tying four assists
- Zed Key finished the game with 11 rebounds, marking just his third game this season with 10 or more rebounds
- Jamari Wheeler went over 700 career points, finishing his career with 701
- Kyle Young grabbed his 600th career rebound in the game, finishing his career with 604 rebounds and 871 career points
COURTESY OSU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS