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(Friday, March 22nd)
Final Score: Ohio State 95, Iona 70
Dayton, OH (Sports Network) - Deshaun Thomas scored 24 points, and Ohio State pulled away in the second half to beat Iona, 95-70, in a second-round matchup in the NCAA Tournament.
Sam Thompson had career-highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Buckeyes (27-7), who is seeded second in the West Region. They will play No. 10 seed Iowa State Sunday. The Cyclones throttled Notre Dame Friday night, 76-58.
The reigning Big Ten Tournament champions, winners of nine in a row, also received 12 points from Lenzelle Smith Jr. and 11 from Evan Ravenel.
Tavon Sledge tallied 20 points and Sean Armand added 17 for the Gaels (20-14), who gained entry into the "Big Dance" thanks to their victory in the title game of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament.
Iona officially fell to 0-9 all-time in the NCAA Tournament after its 1980 appearance was vacated due to violations.
Lamont Jones, the MAAC player of the year, came into the game averaging 23 points. He was held to nine on 3-of-14 shooting.
The Gaels held a brief 6-5 edge following a layup from Jones, but the Buckeyes scored the ensuing 15 points and were in front the rest of the night. Thompson capped the burst with an alley-oop jam off a feed from Shannon Scott with 12:38 left in the half.
"An alley-oop is a great team play," Thompson said. "It shows two guys on the same page offensively. Shannon did such a great job getting into the teeth of the defense, having the defense collapse, and just letting me do the easy part and finishing it. It really gives our team a boost offensively and defensively and definitely gives the other team something to think about."
Ohio State increased its lead to as many as 19 in the half, but the Gaels trimmed it to 37-33 following Tre Bowman's layup with 1:36 left. Ohio State countered with a dunk from Thompson, and the Buckeyes headed to the half up 43-33 following a pair of Thompson free throws in the closing seconds.
"It's like the first game of the season all over again," Armand said. "Everybody's a little excited, trying to do a little bit too much. We just had to get our heads together. We just kept telling each other to chip away at the lead. Fouls didn't go our way, and we are back down 10 at halftime."
The Buckeyes made half of their 32 shots in the opening 20 minutes, while the Gales struggled at 36.4 percent.
Thompson had another jam two minutes into the second half to cap a period- opening 9-0 burst. The double-digit margin remained the rest of the game and Ohio State led by as many as 30 down the stretch.
David Laury had 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Iona, which committed 19 turnovers ... Ohio State held a 33-2 points advantage from bench players ... Iona went 6-of-28 from 3-point range, compared to 7-of-15 for Ohio State ... Aaron Craft had a season-high six steals and seven assists for the Buckeyes.
03/22 23:52:22 ET
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