Ohio State's Buzzer-Beaters Have Delivered NCAA Thrills

Bruce Hooley

Four years ago on April 4, 2016, Villanova's Kris Jenkins hit the only game-winning, buzzer-beating three-point field goal in NCAA championship game history.

It's not the first buzzer-beater to win a title. Lorenzo Charles of North Carolina State had that one to take down the University of Houston and Phi Slama Jama in 1983.

There have been many such walk-offs in lower rounds, of course, with Christian Laettner's winner against Kentucky in the 1992 East Regional in perhaps the greatest game ever played right there in the annals of the best buzzer-beaters ever.

But Ohio State has had its share of classic game-clinching shots in NCAA Tournament action, if not any true, walk-off buzzer-beaters.

Let's rank the five best OSU rescues to beat the horn and extend the Buckeyes' post-season run.

5. Alex Davis vs. Providence, 1990 West Regional first round

Davis, a backup guard as a freshman, scored 22 of his 24 points in the second half to help OSU rally from 12 points down in the last six minutes of regulation and force overtime.

He brought the ball up court after two Providence free throws gave the Friars a 72-69 lead with 12 seconds left. Davis faked to the right, ducked back left and used a Chris Jent screen to get free at the top of the key.

The shot swished through to force overtime, when his free throws, two more from Jim Jackson and a key Jackson put-back delivered the Buckeyes into the second round at the Thomas and Mack Center on the Nevada-Las Vegas campus.

The game ended at 1:49 a.m. Eastern Time -- well worth staying up for in Columbus. Not so much in Providence.

4. Aaron Craft, 2013 West Regional second round

Craft had missed the front end of two one-and-ones in the second half to help Iowa State erase a 13-point deficit, and he had two more free throws after drawing an offensive foul with just over a minute left.

He missed the first, but made the second to forge a 75-75 tie.

DeShaun Thomas forced a turnover at the other end, and Craft brought the ball up with a howling pro-Buckeye crowd at the University of Dayton looking on. He dribbled, dribbled, and dribbled some more until forced to take a shot from just inside the top of the key with 32 seconds left.

It missed, but Iowa State knocked the rebound out of bounds with 29.9 to play.

OSU called timeout and Thomas, upon leaving the huddle, told head coach Thad Matta to get the ball to him.

Thomas didn't tell that to Craft, though. So when he took the inbounds pass, Craft stood near midcourt and waited for the clock to run inside 10 seconds.

Thomas came over to set a screen. Craft feigned a drive, causing 6-9 George Niang to switch off Thomas and onto Craft.

Craft faked a drive again. Niang backed up ever so slightly, giving Craft space to launch.

The shot hit nothing but net as the clock ticked down to .2 seconds left, sending OSU into the Sweet 16 a 78-75 winner.

3. LaQuinton Ross, 2013 West Regional Sweet Sixteen

The play that worked on the right side of the key against Iowa State also worked on the left in OSU's very next game against Arizona at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Like in the second round, the hero was almost the goat.

LaQuinton Ross fouled Arizona's Mark Lyons on a conventional three-point play that tied the score with 21.8 seconds left.

Ross, though, got space after setting a pick for Craft at the other end and knocked down a go-ahead three-pointer with two seconds left. 

Arizona got off only a desperation heave after that and OSU moved on to the Elite Eight.

2. Dave Sorenson, 1968 Mideast Regional finals

Kentucky, with All-Americans Dan Issel and Mike Casey, was expected to breeze through to the Final Four on its home floor, where it hadn't lost all season.

OSU, with its double-stack offense of 6-8 Bill Hosket and 6-7 Dave Sorenson, had other ideas.

The Buckeyes hung in and forged a tie with 1:28 left on Jody Finney's three-point play, but UK reclaimed the lead by one with five seconds left.

OSU inbounded under its own basket, hoping to find Steve Howell on the perimeter for an open jumper. Howell, though, couldn't get free of Casey's defense, so Hosket found Sorenson open in the lane for a five-footer that dropped and silenced the Memorial Coliseum crowd.

Sorenson had 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Hosket added 21 and 15 rebounds as the Buckeyes moved on to play North Carolina in the Final Four.

1. Ron Lewis, 2007 South Regional second round

The top-seeded, top-ranked Buckeyes looked dead in the water when Xavier's Justin Gage went to the free throw line, leading 62-60, with 9.3 seconds left before an upset-thirsty Rupp Arena crowd.

Gage hit the first, but the second rolled off the rim, and OSU's Mike Conley sped into the forecourt up the right side.

He veered left near the top of the key and handed off to Lewis, circling toward the right. Lewis took the ball, leaped and launched a three-pointer that splashed through with 2.1 seconds left, forcing overtime.

OSU dominated thereafter, thanks to 11 overtime points from Conley, and eventually advanced to the NCAA Championship game, where it lost to defending champion Florida.

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