Wolverines Can't Hold Late Lead Against No. 1 Buckeyes

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan mens basketball team dropped a heartbreaking 65-61 loss to No. 1 Ohio State Saturday (March 3), closing out the 2006-07 regular season in Crisler Arena. The Wolverines (20-11, 8-8 Big Ten) held an advantage for the majority of the afternoon, maintaining a good tempo from start to finish, but U-M stalled offensively at the end of the contest.

Leading Ohio State 61-55 with 3:54 on the clock and momentum on their side, the Wolverines looked to seal the win. But the Buckeyes -- thanks in large part to center Greg Odens presence down low -- mounted a 10-0 run to take the victory from Michigan.

For the Senior Day game, seniors Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS), Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS), Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) and Courtney Sims (Boston, Mass./Noble & Greenough School) all got the starting nod, with sophomore Jerret Smith (Romulus, Mich./Romulus HS) rounding out the lineup.

Harris led all scorers with 19, draining 6-of-15 from the floor, including three triples, also adding four assists and one steal. Petway and Sims each had 11; Petway finished the afternoon 4-of-5 from the field with eight rebounds and one block, while Sims finished 4-of-7 from the field with one block.

Smith completed Michigans quartet of double-digit scorers with 10, hitting 3-of-4 from the floor including a perfect 2-of-2 from beyond the arc. He was instrumental in the Maize and Blues success on both sides of the floor, dishing off seven assists and grabbing two steals in a career-best 37 minutes of play.

From the start, Michigan brought an aggressive nature that paid off with success against the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes. Not only did the Wolverines fair well from the field, shooting 48 percent (10-of-21) in the first half, but their ability to drive the ball inside put Ohio State into early foul trouble.

The Wolverines capitalized to the fullest, sinking 11-of-13 from the charity stripe to help them to an eight-point lead, 27-19, with 5:01 remaining in the half. Michigans significant lead wouldnt last long, however, as Ohio State guard Ron Lewis went on an eight-point tear to cut U-Ms lead to two (31-29).

For the Maize and Blue, Harris came through with a clutch three-point shot with just less than a minute to play to put Michigan up by five (34-29). OSU had the final bucket to cut Michigans lead to 34-31 at the break, but the Wolverines still became the third team this season to lead the Buckeyes after the first half of play

Michigan held the lead for the majority of the second half, but Ohio State wouldnt back down and the score remained close. The Wolverines continued to make clutch baskets to remain on top, but the return of OSUs Oden -- who was in foul trouble in the first half and at the outset of the second -- made it difficult for Michigan to penetrate the ball inside.

After a U-M run, in which U-M post players Petway and Sims combined for six points to put Michigan up 51-44, Oden entered the game and helped Ohio State counter with six for a 51-50 score in favor of the Wolverines.

The Maize and Blue maintained composure, rattling off a 10-5 run in 1:28 to build a 61-55 lead with 3:54 on the clock. But Michigans final seven possessions didnt fair well, as Ohio State finished the game with a 10-0 run to take the victory.

The Wolverines will head to Chicago, Ill., for the 2007 Big Ten Tournament in the United Center. The tournament will run Thursday through Sunday (March 8-11). U-M is the No. 8 seed, and will face No. 9-seeded Minnesota in the first round at 11 a.m. CST. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423

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