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March 24, 2013

ISU falls to Buckeye buzzer beater

You can't have your heart broken in the NCAA tournament if you're not in it.

The 2012-13 Iowa State Cyclones became part of the fraternity of teams on the wrong side of memorable NCAA tournament buzzer-beaters on Sunday as Ohio State downed ISU, 78-75, in a "third round" game at Dayton, Ohio.

The Buckeyes' Aaron Craft made a tie-breaking three-point field goal with 0.5 seconds remaining to win the game. The loss ends the season for Iowa State - the no. 10 seed in the West Region - at 23-12. Ohio State, a no. 2 seed, moves on to play Arizona in the Sweet 16.

Iowa State's second straight trip to the round of 32 ended in truly heartbreaking fashion. But what a game it was as the fourth-place team in the Big 12 pushed the Big 10 runner-up to the brink in a quasi home game for Ohio State. And the Cyclones did it without senior defensive stopper and outside shooter Chris Babb in the second half. Babb sprained an ankle late in the first half and could not play again.

The Buckeyes appeared to have seized control of the game with a 10-0 run midway through the second half. A dunk by Iowa State's Melvin Ejim had made it a 52-51 game with OSU on top at the 11:46 mark in the game. Ohio State scored the next ten points for a 62-51 lead with 8:57 to go.

After a Georges Niang lay up for ISU ended the run, OSU's LaQuinton Ross drilled a three-pointer to put the Buckeyes up by a dozen at 65-53 with 8:21 to play. And when Ohio State's Shannon Scott scored with 6:07 left in the game, OSU had its biggest lead of the night at 69-56.

Back stormed the Cyclones as Iowa State scored 13 straight points to tie the game. An Ejim three-pointer made it 69-59 at the 5:55 mark. Tyrus McGee drove for a bucket with 5:25 to go and Will Cyburn hit two free throws with 4:43 left in the game to make it 69-63. Then McGee banged in a three-pointer with 4:32 to go to make it 69-66 and Korie Lucious tied the game at 69 on a conventional three-point play with 3:53 to play in the game.

Another McGee three-pointer pushed Iowa State into the lead at 72-71 with 3:23 to go. That was the Cyclones' first lead since being up 39-38 on a Lucious trey in the opening minute of the second half. ISU led 73-71 when McGee made one of two free throws with exactly three minutes to play and McGee made two free throws with 2:22 to go to put the Cyclones on top, 75-74.

A pivotal call against Iowa State came next. After Ross traveled for Ohio State, the Cyclones' Clyburn drove the right side and collided with OSU's Craft as he banked in a shot high off the glass. Craft was, by rule, inside the restricted arc under the goal. But Clyburn was charged with the offensive foul, wiping out the basket and denying him the three-point play opportunity.

Craft made one of two free throws for Ohio State to tie the game at 75 with 1:15 to play. Iowa State turned the ball over with a late pass on its next possession. The Cyclones got the apparent defensive stop they needed on OSU's next possession, but a loose ball out of bounds was ruled off Iowa State, giving the Buckeyes the ball back to hold for the last shot. They did, and Craft nailed the game-winner with just a half-second left to play. ISU's final desperation heave from 60+ feet away was partially blocked to end the game.

Iowa State jumped out to a 9-4 lead on the favored Buckeyes, but Ohio State responded with its first 10-0 run of the game for a 14-9 lead. ISU then scored five straight points to tie the game at 14 on a Babb three-point field goal with 11:47 to play in the half.

Ohio State got the lead to six on a Deshaun Thomas jumper with 9:23 left in the half that made it 22-16. Iowa State responded with a 9-1 run to take a 25-23 lead on two Ejim free throws with 6:39 to go before halftime. The Cyclones led three more time before halftime, but OSU was up at intermission, 38-36.

Seniors Clyburn and McGee were Iowa State's top two scorers in their final game as a Cyclone. Clyburn scored 17 and McGee 14. Ejim had a double-double for ISU with 10 points and 11 reboiunds, leading Iowa State to a +14 rebounding advantage (36-22) in the game.

Iowa State shot 54.5 percent (12-22) from the field in the second half and 44 percent for the game. ISU had made just 11-of-30 shots in the first half. The Cyclones shot 48 percent from three-point range, making 12-of-25. Iowa State was a respectable 17-of-23 at the free throw line (74 percent). ISU had 16 turnovers to 14 assists in the game.

Ohio State shot 51 percent from the field, 50 percent from three-point range and 73 percent at the free throw line. Thomas scored 22 points and Craft 18 to lead OSU. But the unexpected offensive contribution for the Buckeyes came from Ross, who put up 17 points after averaging just 7.5 during the season.


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