You can't always control whether or not the shots will fall, but you can always control your effort level on the defensive end of the floor.
That old coaching philosophy seemed to encapsulate Sunday's Ohio State game succinctly.
To say that NOTHING fell for Scarlet and Gray in their first ever game at the Covelli Center is not much of a stretch. The Buckeyes shot it slightly better in the second half, thanks largely to a couple clutch 3-pointers from Duane Washington Jr., as they held on to beat UMASS-Lowell, 74-64.
In the first half alone, scored 29 of their 33 points either from the free throw line or in the paint. They shot 2-of-23 from outside the key over the first 20 minutes. The second half, they hit 5-of-17 jump shots outside the key, finishing the game 7-of-40 from outside the paint.
The good news for the Buckeyes was they were absolutely locked in from the free throw line, connecting on 26-of-33 from the free throw line for the game.
Washington led the Buckeyes with 21 points, including two massive, momentum-shifting 3-pointers late in the second half.
After leading for most of the first half, Ohio State found themselves in a small hole early in the second half when UMASS-Lowell ripped off an 8-0 run. At the time, the Buckeyes trailed 41-36 at the first media timeout of the second half. But a good response with scores from C.J. Walker and Washington in consecutive trips up the floor tightened things back up.
Things really shifted back in Ohio State's favor when River Hawks forward Connor Withers fouled out of the game. He picked up a personal and a technical foul on the same play to earn the early exit. Justice Sueing and C.J. Walker hit all four free throws associated with these two fouls and the Buckeyes took the lead back, 53-51.
They wouldn't trail again.
Obadiah Noel and Connor Withers were the top two River Hawks in the first two games of the season, but both had frustrating games. Noel managed 15 points on just 5-of-21 shooting and Withers fouled out after hitting 2-of-10 from the floor.
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