2 players ejected from No. 24 OSU vs. Northwestern
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Northwestern's Nikola Cerina has been suspended one game for taking a swing with a closed hand at an Ohio State player during a scuffle late in the teams' game Wednesday night.
The No. 24 Buckeyes (21-6, 8-6 Big Ten) ended up winning, 76-60 for their 33rd consecutive victory over the Wildcats in Columbus, dating to 1977.
Big men Amir Williams of the Buckeyes and the Wildcats' Cerina exchanged shoves during a scrum under the basket with 5:24 left and Ohio State leading 66-50.
Officials quickly stepped in, but not before the Buckeyes' LaQuinton Ross also traded shoves with Northwestern players.
Ross was not suspended but was ejected for two dead-ball contact technical fouls.
''Things happen, so you have to live with them,'' Cerina said.
Asked if he thought he might be suspended, he said, ''I don't really know. I have to look at the tape and see what actually happened. I would like to not be suspended. I would like to play these last four or five games with my team.''
Ross, Ohio State's leading scorer, was not made available to reporters after the game.
The officials huddled at midcourt during a lengthy delay to decide penalties. After 10 minutes, Cerina and Ross were both ejected. The teams then shot a combined 10 free throws as a result of the conflict.
Lead official Ray Perone issued a statement after the game explaining the penalties.
''By rule, No. 45 (Cerina) for Northwestern, after he committed the common foul, a push on No. 23 (Amir Williams), took a swing with a closed fist or closed hand at No. 23 (Williams) for Ohio State,'' the statement said. ''That act is deemed to be fighting by rule. He does not have to make contact - the fact he swings with a closed fist is deemed to be a fighting act.''
Ross led the Buckeyes with 16 points. Cerina was scoreless with four fouls.
''I just saw Amir and No. 45 down on the baseline,'' said Ohio State's Sam Thompson, who had 11 points. ''That's about all I saw. We didn't talk too much about it. We just went to the aid of our teammate.''
Ohio State coach Thad Matta said before the officials had issued a ruling that he didn't think Ross would be suspended.
''He won't be suspended,'' Matta said. ''I don't think so. I haven't been told anything. I'd be shocked if that was the case. I take that back, nothing shocks me anymore.''
Northwestern coach Chris Collins said it could have been much worse.
''I didn't see it,'' Collins said. ''I saw a lot of bodies. Sometimes you see a lot of pushing and grabbing. I personally didn't see any punches, but that doesn't mean there weren't any thrown. I trust what the referees said. They got the fouls on us, the fouls on them - and then we played on.''
To that point, there had not been any extraordinary contact in the game - the only one between the Big Ten teams during the regular season.
There was one minor flare-up with 2:51 remaining. Ohio State's Aaron Craft was dribbling on a breakaway when Northwestern's JerShon Cobb shoved him from behind. The officials ruled it was an intentional foul, but did not eject Cobb.
Drew Crawford, who led Northwestern (12-15, 5-9) with 22 points, said it was a very physical game.
''All I saw was a couple of guys get tangled up under the basket,'' he said. ''Guys get tangled up and that stuff happens in physical game.''
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