EVANSTON — Perhaps Northwestern gave up losing for Lent.
The Wildcats (13-17, 4-15 B1G) broke their 10-game losing streak on Ash Wednesday, handling a likely NCAA tournament team in Ohio State (18-12, 8-11), 68-50. It is their first win since January 22, when they beat Indiana, 75-69.
Dererk Pardon led the way for the Wildcats, tallying a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Vic Law and A.J. Turner each added 10 points.
Northwestern got out to a hot start, taking advantage of Ohio State’s early sloppiness and scoring the game’s first six points. Buckeye senior point guard C.J. Jackson did not start, and the Ohio State offense missed its first 13 shots.
Once Jackson came in, though, he made no immediate impact. A combined 18 fouls and 11 turnovers, along with a missed dunk from Barret Benson made for a staccato first half.
With 10 minutes to go in the first half, Northwestern had allowed just six points, aided by a six-minute stretch during which Ohio State turned the ball over five times. The scoring began to pick up in the latter stages of the half, but that’s all relative. The teams combined for 45 points, with Northwestern leading 28-17 at the break.
While looking like no juggernaut on the offensive end, Northwestern kept the scoring steady in the first half with Vic Law and Anthony Gaines leading the way. The two combined for 14 of NU’s 28 first-half points in a pretty balanced effort.
Even when there were open looks, Ohio State could not get many shots to fall. Playing without Kaleb Wesson, who dropped 22 points and eight rebounds on the ‘Cats in their last matchup, the Buckeyes looked lost. OSU shot a mere 4-28 from the field — that’s 14 percent — in the first half, including 1-of-12 from three. The Buckeyes airballed at least three jumpers. Still, Northwestern shot just 39 percent from the field and the Wildcats led by just 11 at the half.
Ryan Taylor opened up the second half festivities by hitting a three, Ohio State made an early 6-0 run to pull within seven, and the scoring began to flow freely for both teams.
The highlight early in the second half was a Dererk Pardon three to extend the NU lead back to 10. Ryan Greer followed up Pardon with a triple from the corner, and at the under-12 timeout Northwestern led 43-35.
Nearly every time it looked like the Buckeyes might make things tight, Northwestern would answer and then respond on defense.
With about eight and a half minutes left in the second half, Ohio State pulled within five, after nailing 5-of-7 field goals, but a Pardon lay-in and Turner three cushioned the NU lead with just over seven minutes to go.
Miller Kopp found Pardon on a great feed for an and-one dunk, giving NU a 15-point lead, the largest of the game to that point.
Kopp finished the night with six points and four assists.
Isaiah Woods paced Ohio State with 15 points. The Buckeyes scored 33 points in the second half, but shot just 27 percent from the field.
Wednesday nights’ win was Northwestern’s first victory at home versus Ohio State since 2009.
Northwestern will finish out the regular season Saturday at home against Purdue before beginning Big Ten Tournament play on March 13.