-- Despite a strong effort down the stretch and another strong night from LaVell Blanchard (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer HS)
, the No. 10-seeded University of Michigan men's basketball team could not top No. 2 seed Ohio State (No. 21 AP, No. 17 ESPN/USA Today), losing 75-68 Friday (March 8) in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal round at Conseco Fieldhouse. The loss ends the season for Michigan (11-18), while the Buckeyes (21-7) advance to the Big Ten semifinals on Saturday (March 9).
While Blanchard scored 24 points to lead the team in scoring a second consecutive night, Michigan spread the offense around with 10 points each from Bernard Robinson Jr. (Washington, D.C./New Hampton Prep. [N.H.])
and senior Chris Young (Plymouth, Mich./Catholic Central HS)
. The Buckeyes countered with a balanced inside attack and a strong perimeter game, as five players scored in double digits.
After a cold start of 2-for-10 from the field, the Wolverines scrambled to make up a 13-point deficit to Ohio State. Down 19-7 midway through the half, Dommanic Ingerson (Santa Barbara, Calif./Santa Barbara HS) connected on a three-pointer to send Michigan on a 10-5 run which allowed it to slowly chip away at the Buckeye lead.
Ohio State built its lead with strong play from all positions, as Brent Darby connected for 10 points in the backcourt, while Williams collected eight underneath the post.
The Wolverines found themselves down by 13 points at 30-17 just outside of five minutes remaining in the first half. A key 7-0 run pulled them as close as six points, led by Gavin Groninger's (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield HS) triple and two of Blanchard's 11 first-half points, though they trailed 42-35 at the half.
Michigan held the Buckeyes without a field goal for over five minutes, as the Maize and Blue chipped away at the halftime deficit to begin the second half on a 7-3 run.
In the second half, Michigan was able to put the pressure on the Buckeyes to maintain the lead. Over a two-minute stretch at 14:11, Blanchard took control of the Maize and Blue offense with seven consecutive points as Leon Jones (Battle Creek, Mich./Winchendon Prep. [Mass.]) was forced to the bench in foul trouble. Blanchard's efforts kept Michigan within five, 52-47 at 13:09.
The Wolverines kept themselves within a bucket of the lead on three separate occasions. Young's hook shot underneath the post at 5:24 brought the Wolverines within one point of the lead, 64-63. Ohio State was resilient, however, with four straight points from Radinovic to reassert its tenuous grasp on the game.
Michigan was as close as two points from OSU as late as with one minute remaining, as Blanchard's bucket made the score 70-68 at 1:06. The Wolverines could not score the rest of the way, and the Buckeyes made the best of their chances, converting 3-of-4 free throws to advance to the semifinals.
Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423