Buckeyes down Iowa in Big Ten tournament

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2003

CHICAGO - Their lead gone, the Ohio State Buckeyes gave the ball to their best player and hoped he could make something good happen.

Brent Darby didn't disappoint them.

Darby banked in a layup over two defenders with 1.8 seconds left Thursday, and the Buckeyes hung on to beat Iowa 66-64 after blowing a 12-point lead in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.

Email newsletter signup

''We put the ball in the hands of our best player, and he delivered,'' Buckeyes coach Jim O'Brien said. ''We were waiting for something like this to happen, something good.''

Darby finished with 18 points, seven assists, six rebounds and five steals for Ohio State (15-13, 8-9 Big Ten). Sean Connolly added 15, and Velimir Radinovic had 14 points and seven rebounds.

Chauncey Leslie scored nine of his 15 points in the last two minutes to lead Iowa's furious 17-7 run. Brody Boyd also had 15 points, all on 3-pointers.

Jared Reiner, the Big Ten's leading rebounder, had one of his worst games of the season. He finished with just six points and four rebounds.

''Obviously, we're very frustrated,'' Iowa coach Steve Alford said. ''This is a tournament we've played very well in. I thought our kids played hard. But we're one-and-done and have to go home.''

Ohio State, the eighth seed, now plays No. 18 Wisconsin, the regular season conference champs, in the second round Friday morning.

The Buckeyes beat Iowa to win the Big Ten tournament last season in Indianapolis, but they haven't fared as well when it's in Chicago. They were just 1-4 in the tournament at the United Center.

But they had some extra motivation Thursday. They'd lost two of their last three games, including a 71-64 loss to Iowa in Columbus, Ohio.

''That game left a bitter taste in my mouth and everybody's mouth,'' Radinovic said. ''It was still fresh in our minds.''

Ohio State looked like it was sleepwalking through the first half, shooting just 28 percent. But they only trailed by four at the half and finally got their game going in the second. Darby capped an 11-0 run with seven straight points to give the Buckeyes a 59-47 lead and seemingly lock up the game with 2:43 left.

But the ninth-seeded Hawkeyes (15-13, 7-10) weren't ready to quit playing just yet.

''I just wanted to get the team back in the game,'' Leslie said. ''I did. I hit a few shots, and we were able to tie the game.''

Boyd, the sharp-shooting hero of the championship game two years ago, got the rally started with a 3-pointer. Leslie then made back-to-back field goals, including a scoop shot from his hip, to pull Iowa within 59-54 with 1:46 left.

After Connolly made a pair of free throws, Leslie responded with a layup. Sean Sonderleiter then stole the inbounds pass and scored on a layup to cut Ohio State's lead to 61-58 with 1:22 to play.

Darby made one foul shot, but Glen Worley came right back with a 3-pointer, pounding his chest as the ball swished through the net. After a timeout, Ohio State scored on Zach Williams' putback.

But Iowa was right there with another 3, this time from Leslie, to tie the game at 64 with 22.9 seconds left.

''We didn't relax; we didn't get caught by surprise,'' O'Brien said. ''You've got to give those guys a lot of credit for making a couple of 3s. Chauncey Leslie took that team on his back.''

So did Darby. After slowly walking the ball upcourt, Darby called a timeout. When play resumed, the senior worked the clock, waiting until there were less than five seconds left.

Then he shed Leslie and drove to the hoop, jumping over two defenders and banking in the layup from the right side with 1.8 seconds left.

Leslie took one last shot, but the buzzer sounded before he got his jumper off. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, as the ball hit the rim and rolled off.

''We know it's a new season,'' Darby said. ''We've put the regular season behind us.''