Darby bounces back to shoot Buckeyes over Wildcats

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 6, 2003

EVANSTON, Ill. -- His shooting-hand thumb swollen to twice its normal size, Brent Darby didn't have much faith in his shot to start with.

Missing four free throws in the final minute didn't help.

But with 3.4 seconds left, Darby made a pair of free throws and scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to give Ohio State a 52-48 win over Northwestern on Wednesday night.

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Even Darby admitted it wasn't pretty.

The senior was 5-of-14 from the field. Even more surprisingly, he was 5-of-12 from the free throw line. Still, it was enough.

''I was frustrated,'' Darby said. ''I missed a lot of layups, missed some free throws, missed some easy chip shots.

''It was just one of those games.''

It may have been a game the Buckeyes (14-12, 7-8 Big Ten) lost without the rebounding of Velimir Radinovic.

Ohio State, which won its ninth straight against Northwestern, finished with a 49-29 edge in rebounding -- including 22 offensive rebounds. Radinovic led the Buckeyes with seven offensive rebounds.

Radinovic finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Forced to shoot long jumpers, Northwestern came up short. The Wildcats made 9-of-26 3s, but shot 30 percent for the game.

Ohio State, which shot 34 percent and made 12-of-25 free throws, held the Wildcats to one field goal over the last 10:03.

''If a team shoots 34 percent and then makes half its foul shots and you're at home, you think you're going to win that game,'' Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. ''But the stat that jumps out is that rebounding. They just crushed us on the boards.''

Ohio State trailed 38-31 when Matt Sylvester made a pair of baskets to cut the deficit to three. Darby, just 1-of-8 in the first half, hit a 3-pointer and a fall-away jumper inside the 3-point line to cap an 11-0 run that gave the Buckeyes a 42-38 lead.

Darby, an 83 percent free throw shooter, missed a pair of free throws with 24 seconds to go and Ohio State up by three, giving Northwestern a chance to tie.

However, Aaron Jennings passed up an open 3-point attempt and instead tried to throw it down low to Jason Burke -- committing one of several costly turnovers for the Wildcats (11-15, 3-12).

Northwestern turned the ball over 15 times.

Darby missed two practices this last week and said he was still bothered by the swollen thumb.

''It's been kind of rough with my hand,'' he said. ''I tried to get into the groove early and hit some shots, and luckily they started falling in the second half when we needed them.''

Both teams had trouble scoring in the first half.

Northwestern held Ohio State scoreless for 6:06 in the first half to open up a 20-9 lead with 8:13 to go in the half. Jitim Young, the team's leading scorer, hit a 3-pointer and scored eight straight during the 11-0 spurt.

Up by 11, Northwestern didn't score the rest of the half.

Darby's first points of the game sparked a 10-0 run as Ohio State closed to 20-19 at halftime, and took the lead for good on his 3-pointer in the second half.

Winston Blake led Northwestern with 12 points and freshman T.J. Parker had 10 points.

Blake, a reserve forward who got the start because of Senior Night, made his first two 3-point attempts and scored nine of Northwestern's first 12 points.