Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
Coming off a game in which he scored a career-high 22 points, coach Thad Matta said that he wanted to see how LaQuinton Ross handled success. The sophomore forward responded with another statement performance on Saturday for Ohio State.
Ross scored 16 points and pulled down a career-high nine rebounds as OSU (6-1) dispatched Long Beach State, 89-55.
“I came out strong this game too,” Ross said. “I tried to show my coaches that I’m not going to base my whole season off that last game.”
Matta said he liked what he saw.
“The big thing with LaQuinton is continuing to just focus on all the little aspects of the game,” added Matta. “To get him playing his best basketball is obviously good for our team.”
Ross wasn’t the only bench player to make an impact for OSU. Sophomore guard Shannon Scott scored just three points, but dished out nine assists and secured five rebounds. Sophomore center Amir Williams contributed with seven points and a blocked shot. In all, OSU’s bench outscored LBSU’s, 37-14.
“I felt like all those guys that came in brought some energy, brought some cohesiveness,” Matta said. “Everybody came in and shared the basketball.”
After making less than 40 percent of their field goals in the past two games, the Buckeyes regained their shooting touch against the 49ers. OSU connected on 31-66 (47 percent) of its shots, including 10-30 from 3-point range.
The 30 3-point attempts were a season-high for OSU, and in part a product of LBSU’s defense. The 49ers seemed content to sit in a zone and cut off OSU’s penetration on drives, with the cost of giving up open looks from deep.
In the first half the strategy had some success. The Buckeyes couldn’t capitalize on several wide-open looks and connected on just 4-15 3-point attempts. But in the second half the Buckeyes caught fire, made five of their first six from behind the arc, and used the deep ball to put LBSU away.
“The guys work so hard on their shooting,” Matta said. “It’s amazing, it kind of becomes contagious, and when somebody knocks one down it carries over. I don’t know if I want to shoot 30 3’s in a game. We’ve got to continue to find our shooting touch and make shots.”
Junior forward Deshaun Thomas led the team in scoring with 18 points.
The loss drops LBSU to 3-6 on the season, in part because of a grueling non-conference schedule. Before falling to No. 7 OSU, the 49ers were defeated by No. 4 Syracuse, No. 8 Arizona and No. 20 North Carolina.
LBSU coach Dan Monson said that the Buckeyes separate themselves from the other teams on the defensive end of the floor.
“Of those teams, OSU is the best defensive team,” Monson said. “[Junior point guard Aaron] Craft is as good of an on-ball defender as anyone in the country.”
OSU’s defense frustrated LBSU all day, and held the 49ers to 31 percent shooting.
“Coach Matta wants good defense to be the identity of this team so we do a lot of defensive drills in practice,” said junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. “Right now as a team we’re playing together well on the defensive end of the floor.”
OSU returns to action on Dec. 12 in a home game against Savannah State.