Ross' late 3-pointer lifts Ohio State over Arizona
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - For the second consecutive game, Ohio State needed a clutch shot to stay alive in the NCAA Tournament.
Now the Buckeyes are one step away from their second straight trip to the Final Four.
LaQuinton Ross scored 14 of Ohio State's final 17 points, and his 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds remaining boosted the Buckeyes to a 73-70 triumph over Arizona in a West Regional semifinal.
On Sunday, it was Aaron Craft playing hero by hitting the winning 3-pointer in the final second of a 78-75 triumph over Iowa State. Four days later, it was Ross' turn, as the sophomore came alive in the final eight minutes.
Winners of 11 straight games, the second-seeded Buckeyes (29-7) will play in the Elite Eight Saturday versus the survivor of the La Salle/Wichita State matchup. The Buckeyes lost to Kansas in the Final Four last year.
One more victory, and Thad Matta's team will gain a trip to Atlanta.
Deshaun Thomas scored 20 points, Craft had 13 and Sam Thompson finished with 11 for the Buckeyes, but the big story was Ross, who finished with 17 points.
Mark Lyons scored 23 points and Solomon Hill added 16 for the sixth-seeded Wildcats (27-8), who had blowout wins over Belmont and Harvard in their first two games of the tourney, but failed to hold an 11-point first-half lead against the Buckeyes.
Lyons drove in for a layup with 1:07 left to cut Ohio State's margin to 70-67. The Buckeyes called timeout with 43 seconds left, then Craft missed a layup high off the glass.
Lyons raced the other way, received a pass from Nick Johnson and was fouled by Ross while sinking a layup with 21.8 seconds left. After the made free throw tied the game, Craft had the ball in his hands, but passed up an opportunity to win the game in favor of Ross.
Craft dribbled at the top of the arc and delivered the ball to Ross, who nailed a deep 3-ball for the deciding points.
Hill's ensuing pass was deflected away by Ohio State's Lenzelle Smith Jr as time expired.
Hill plowed into Thomas for a layup and an 8-2 Arizona lead nearly 3 1/2 minutes into the game. The Buckeyes got within 14-13, but the Wildcats again pulled away and pushed the advantage to 26-17 following Johnson's dunk with just under nine minutes left in the first half.
Two free throws from Kevin Parrom with nearly 6 1/2 minutes to go in the opening period had Arizona in front 33-22, but the Buckeyes rallied to get within 38-34 at the half after Thomas drained a 3-point shot with 1:10 left.
Thompson's layup with 17:39 remaining finally pushed the Buckeyes into the lead at 40-38, and Ohio State extended its run to 31-10 following its first- half deficit. Thomas capped the burst with a 3-pointer for a 53-43 difference with about 11 minutes left.
The Wildcats were able to stay within striking distance thanks to some OSU turnovers, but still looked like they had little chance after Craft went 1-of-2 from the charity stripe with 1:18 left for a 70-65 score.
Thomas hit half of his 14 shots ... Thompson and Smith each had eight rebounds ... Lyons and Hill combined to go 13-of-23 from the field, but the remainder of the Wildcats went 10-of-29.
03/28 22:48:44 ET