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Ohio State pulls away from Gonzaga for 73-66 win
“We went toe-to-toe with a really good team,” Few said. “Wouldn’t surprise me if they are cutting down the nets in New Orleans. They’re right at that level with some of those other good teams like Syracuse and Kentucky.”
It’s a glass ceiling the Bulldogs have been trying to break through since making the regional finals in 1999. Their best chance of returning to the round of 16 came on Kevin Pangos’ 3-point attempt from the right corner with 90 seconds to play.
“I thought it was good for sure,” Pangos said.
It certainly looked good. The ball went halfway down before rolling off and into the hands of Ohio State’s William Buford. Sullinger again delivered with a baby hook to push the Buckeyes’ lead to 66-61 with 57 seconds left.
The Bulldogs got no closer. By the time Bell banked in an awkward 3-pointer with 11 seconds left, it was too late.
“I think if you ask the Ohio State guys, they know we hit ‘em and went right at ‘em,” Few said.
Gonzaga pushed around West Virginia in a 23-point romp in the second round Thursday. Sullinger, who watched part of the rout from behind one of the baskets, described it as a “wake-up” call.
If it was, the Buckeyes hit the snooze button early.
Determined to lead Gonzaga to the one destination that has eluded the program, senior center Robert Sacre gave the Bulldogs an impassioned pep talk in the tunnel before taking the floor just before the opening tip, urging “everybody to hit their man.”
Gonzaga landed the first blows, dominating the paint early against the supposedly bigger, deeper Buckeyes.
The Bulldogs led 27-20 late in the first half even with Sacre in foul trouble. Reserve Sam Dower filled in capably, crashing the glass and even knocking down his third 3-pointer of the season.
If Ohio State was rattled, it didn’t show.
Thomas, coming off a career-high 31 points against Loyola, took over with Sullinger relegated to a cheerleader after picking up his second foul. The sophomore swingman ripped off 10 straight points during a 4-minute stretch as Ohio State clawed back. Craft erased all of Gonzaga’s hard work with a difficult runner just before the horn to give the Buckeyes a 39-37 lead as Ohio State fans who made the 3-hour drive from Columbus roared their approval.
Gonzaga never climbed back in front, and the Buckeyes were marching toward Boston looking just as formidable as top-seed Syracuse thanks to their suddenly easygoing star.
By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
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