Ohio State Men’s Basketball needs late run to beat Cornell in NIT play, 88-83

By Danielle Daniels







COLUMBUS, Ohio – Playing in its fastest paced game all season, Ohio State was the first to the line in an 88-83 victory over Cornell in the opening round of the NIT on Tuesday night at Value City Arena.

Felix Okpara, known for defense, rebounding and blocked shots, helped the offense with 16 points

The Buckeyes improve to 21-13 on the year and advance to face Virginia Tech in the second round on Saturday in Columbus.

Jamison Battle and Roddy Gayle Jr. each finished with 17 points while Felix Okpara added 16 points and Devin Royal had 13 points. The Buckeyes made 11 three-pointers, including a couple of big ones down the stretch and dished-out 22 assists on the night.

The pace was up-and-down as the Buckeyes attempted a season-high 75 shots and grabbed 51 rebounds. That’s the most rebounds in a game since 2017 and the 75 shots are the most in a game since 2016. They also won the battle on the boards, 51-32.

The game featured 17 lead changes and six ties. The Buckeyes would lead by six at the break, but Cornell took the lead back with a three-pointer just six minutes into the second half. A three-pointer by Gayle Jr. sparked a 7-0 run and after another Cornell three, Bowen Hardman came off the bench and knocked-down a deep three-pointer to put the Buckeyes up five, 74-69 with five minutes to play. That felt big at the time as it gave OSU a bit of breathing room.

Cornell came right back and held an 81-79 lead with under a minute to go. That’s when Battle stepped-up and hit a huge three-pointer from the corner to give the Buckeyes the lead for good. Royal added a lay-in and two free throws in the closing stretch to record his fourth double-digit scoring night of the year.

Ohio State shot 42.7 percent from the floor and was able to overcome a tough night from the line (59.1 percent). Cornell was led by Isaiah Gray with 19 points as the Big Red shot 57.6 percent in the second half to almost pull the upset.