Liddell scores 29, No. 17 Ohio State struggles past Niagara

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — E.J. Liddell scored a career-high 29 points as No. 17 Ohio State pulled away from Niagara in the second half for an 84-74 win on Friday night.

Liddell has carried the load in each of the first two games, both of them closer-than-expected wins for the Buckeyes (2-0).

Ohio State needed a last-second layup by Zed Key to beat Akron on Tuesday night.

Marcus Hammond scored 22 points for Niagara (0-2), which stayed in the game until the final minute. Sam Iorio had 18 points and Jordan Cintron scored 17.

The Buckeyes led 42-41 at halftime after the Purple Eagles’ Noah Thomasson beat the buzzer with a layup. Liddell had 18 first-half points for the Buckeyes but sat for the last 5 1/2 minutes after picking up his second foul.

The Buckeyes opened up a 12-point lead on a dunk by Malaki Branham with 4:38 left, but Niagara wouldn’t go away.

Cintron hit a 3-pointer to cut the Ohio State lead to seven points with 27 seconds left, but Niagara had to start fouling and the Buckeyes kept them at bay with foul shots.

Key had 11 points for Ohio State and Justice Sueing added 10.

BIG PICTURE

Niagara: The Purple Eagles hit 60% of their 3-pointers in the first half and finishing 11 for 21 from beyond the arc. A solid performance against Ohio State followed a 3-point loss to Big East squad Xavier on Tuesday night.

Ohio State: Except for Liddell, the Buckeyes’ first two efforts haven’t been impressive. They were nearly upset by Akron and then went to mat with a scrappy Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference foe. The Buckeyes made one field goal in the final four minutes.

WELCOME BACK

Third-year Niagara coach Greg Paulus returned to Value City Arena for the first time since his stint as an Ohio State assistant. Paulus was at Ohio State from 2011-17, first as the video coordinator and then an assistant under former coach Thad Matta. He was an assistant at Louisville and George Washington before Niagara, where he is 21-33.

UP NEXT

Niagara: Plays SIU Edwardsville in Youngstown, Ohio, on Nov. 19.

Ohio State: Hosts Bowling Green on Monday night.

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