COLUMBUS, Ohio — Bucknell saw its chance but couldn’t quite get there.
Trailing No. 15 Ohio State by two points, the Bison had the ball after a Buckeyes turnover with 14 seconds left. But a 3-point shot by Bruce Moore bounced off the front of the rim. Ohio State rebounded and held on for a 73-71 victory Saturday.
“Our guys were aware of taking away the 3 in that situation,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “I totally get why they went for 3 on the road. If I’m him, I’m probably doing the same thing, but a two is a good option, too.”
Ohio State went on an 11-2 run to lead by 11 with under 10 minutes remaining. Bucknell stormed back to within two with a 10-2 run and late 3-pointer by Avi Toomer.
Kaleb Wesson had a career-high 22 points and added 10 rebounds for Ohio State (9-1, 2-0 Big Ten). Keyshawn Woods had 13 points on 5-for-9 3-point shooting.
Bucknell (4-4) carried its first-half momentum into the second with a 9-2 run to lead 49-41. During that stretch, Ohio State’s Andre Wesson — Kaleb’s older brother — chipped three teeth in a collision and was taken to the locker room. He later returned.
“I didn’t know it was three (teeth),” Holtmann said. “I thought it was one because I grabbed one of them on the floor when I was out there. I actually stepped on it, so I apologize.”
The Buckeyes retook the lead at 53-52 with under 14 minutes left, making six straight baskets that included two 3-pointers by Woods.
Toomer and Kimbal McKenzie led Bucknell with 13 points each, and Jimmy Sotos added 12 and seven rebounds. Bucknell’s leading scorer, Nate Sestina, fouled out with 7:17 left. He finished with 10 points.
Bucknell: Size played a major factor, but Bucknell showed no quit in running with the Buckeyes until the final seconds. The Bison’s two-game win streak ended.
Bucknell coach Nathan Davis said Ohio State’s smothering defense limited McKenzie, the team’s top guard.
“They’re big and they’re physical and it was clear there was a focus and intention on making him take some tough shots,” Davis said. “I thought he did, I thought he missed some that he typically makes.”
Ohio State: Nearly let one get away to a less-talented opponent.
“The most glaring thing to me was I did not think our attention to detail was what it needs to be for a good team, and that’s the coaches’ fault,” Holtmann said.
The only redshirt senior on Ohio State’s roster, Woods has been cited by players and coaches as a veteran the players can lean on when the game seems to get out of hand.
“He definitely calms everybody down. Because he’s played a lot of basketball, he’s been there, he’s been down,” Kaleb Wesson said.
“Just him being there and telling us what to do and helping us calm down, keep everybody tight in the circle, it helps a lot.”
Woods has largely come off the bench since joining Ohio State this season as a graduate transfer.
Bucknell: Visits Saint Mary’s on Tuesday
Ohio State: Hosts Youngstown State on Tuesday
By EDWARD SUTELAN, Associated Press