Strong shooting helps Ohio State defeat George Mason, 98-66

Cody Erbacher

George Mason coach Jim Larranaga didn’t know if his team would be able to match up to Ohio State’s powerful roster entering Sunday’s game.

But Larranaga had a three-step plan to stop Ohio State’s offense going into Sunday’s NCAA Tournament’s third round game.

Step 1 – Stop Jared Sullinger.

Step 2 – Defend Jon Diebler.

Step 3 – Pray that David Lighty and William Buford don’t go on a shooting streak from the field.

Unfortunately, double-teaming Sullinger and placing a heavy focus on Diebler gave Lighty and Buford the spacing they needed to go 11-for-14 combined from the 3-point line helping the Buckeyes (34-2) crush the Patriots (27-7), 98-66.

“They’ve got an entire team with offensive skill sets that are very impressive,” Larranaga said.

Lighty went a perfect 7-for-7 from the 3-point line en route to his game-high 25 points. Buford tallied 18 points, while shooting 4-for-7 from behind the arc.

As a team, Ohio State shot 16-for-26 from 3-point range.

“It’s pretty hard to guard this team with how many weapons we have,” said Sullinger, who recorded 18 points and eight rebounds.

“No matter what we tried to do out there, they would still execute,” said Ryan Pearson, who went 4-for-10 with 13 points, five rebounds and four assists in the losing effort.

George Mason’s defense struggled containing Ohio State’s offense for the majority of the game.

After taking a quick 11-2 lead, George Mason’s defense started to falter giving up a 3-pointer to Lighty.

A few minutes later Lighty hit back-to-back 3-point shots giving the Buckeyes a 15-14 lead.

Ohio State would lead George Mason for the remainder of the game.

“They are the toughest team we’ve faced,” Pearson said. “I think they’re going to go really far in this tournament.”

At halftime the Buckeyes led the Patriots with a commanding 52-26 score.

That was due to solid shooting from the offense early in the game.

The first half was capped off by a Diebler 3-pointer gave Ohio State a 52-26 lead in the game that determined who advanced to the sweet 16 in Newark, New Jersey.

The Buckeyes used a deadly strike from the 3-point line early and often to keep the lead.

Ohio State shot 9-for-12 from behind the arc in the first half.

Lighty went a perfect 5-for-5 from the 3-point line, and Diebler went 3-for-5 in the first half.

Diebler finished the game shooting 4-for-8 from behind the arc, and totaled 13 points.

Leading the Patriots was Cam Long, who finished with 16 points and six rebounds. Long recorded seven turnovers as well.