Jaquan Lyle and Marc Loving both scored 18 points and secured career-high rebounds (14 and 13 respectively) to lead the Ohio State Buckeyes to a 72-63 overtime victory over the Akron Zips in the first-round game of the NIT in Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday night.

Ohio State Beats Akron 72-63 In OT In NIT Opener

“We couldn’t overlook this game, it’s another opportunity to get better,” Marc Loving said. “Postseason play for this team is a good thing.”

Loving and Lyle played the entire game, as did Kam Williams, who made his first start. Williams also scored 18 points for the Buckeyes (21-13), including a layup that gave Ohio State a three-point lead over Akron halfway through overtime. Williams stole the ball near mid court, raced down to the other end, and shot the layup.

The Buckeyes dominated in overtime, outscoring the Zips 10-1.


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Isaiah Johnson led Akron (26-9) with 16 points and 12 rebounds, but he was just 6 of 16 from the foul line.

The Zips, who missed all seven of their field-goal attempts in overtime, also were 9-of-42 from three-point range (21 percent). Akron usually shoots 39 percent behind the arc.

The win proved to be a significant one for the Buckeyes, who were missing two of their best players: Keita Bates-Diop, who sat out due to an illness, and Jae’Sean Tate, who was out with a shoulder injury.

“Guys had to push on, they had to get stops,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “We needed buckets down the stretch, guys got ’em. We made free throws. We’re without two of our best players, two of our most experienced players, take advantage of your opportunity.”

Matta stated that he hopes to have Bates-Diop back when the Buckeyes host a second-round NIT game on Sunday. He also said that he hopes his players realize that this victory just means a chance to play extra games and practices, and the opportunity for players to learn and grow in preparation for next year.

“Hopefully they understand the value of continuing to play and getting a win like this tonight,” Matta said.

Ohio State last won its last NIT title in 2008. The Buckeyes will next play the winner of the North Florida-Florida game.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 11: Marc Loving #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes drives against Denzel Valentine #45 of the Michigan State Spartans in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 11, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Michigan State defeated Ohio State 81-54. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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