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Dec 30, 2002

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By ANDY RESNIK
Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Brent Darby had 16 points and Zach Williams scored six of his 12 down the stretch as Ohio State rallied to beat Hampton 70-62 Monday night.

The Buckeyes, who trailed most of the way because their outside shots wouldn’t fall, went inside down the stretch to turn their fortunes around.

The Pirates then lost track of Ohio State players on two inbounds passes in the final minute, dashing their hopes of an upset that seemed probable only moments earlier.

Williams was the beneficiary of the Buckeyes’ changed strategy, scoring six straight on a layup and four free throws to give Ohio State a 57-55 lead with 5:55 remaining.

After Hampton tied it at 57 on a Devin Green jumper, Velimir Radinovic scored down low to give the Buckeyes the lead for good.

The Buckeyes extended their lead to 62-58 on a Sean Connolly 3-pointer, then put the game away after Hampton missed two chances to score.

Green missed two free throws with 1:18 remaining and, after Isaac Jefferson fumbled a potential steal out of bounds, Radinovic got behind the defense for a dunk on the inbounds pass. That gave Ohio State a six-point lead.

Emonte Jernigan scored on a similar play in the closing seconds, catching a long inbounds pass and banking in an off-balance 10-footer over a defender. He was fouled and hit the free throw to make it 69-60.

Jernigan and Matt Sylvester scored 11 points apiece for the Buckeyes and Radinovic had 10.

Jefferson, who went to high school at Beechcroft in Columbus, and Barry Hairston led Hampton’s balanced offense with nine points each.

The Pirates (4-3) nearly handed the Buckeyes their first loss against a team not ranked in the top 5 nationally. Until the final minutes, Hampton players made shots each time the Buckeyes cut into their deficit.

The athletic Pirates hounded Ohio State shooters throughout. The Buckeyes had few wide-open looks at the basket until the final moments.

Hampton hit 13-of-26 shots in the first half to take a 33-28 lead and never trailed by more than three points until Connolly’s 3-pointer with 1:38 remaining.

After scoring at least 20 points in each of the last three games, Connolly finished with eight. He had been the only Ohio State player to reach double figures in each of the first nine games.

The Buckeyes played without center Terence Dials, who’s out for 4 to 6 weeks with a stress fracture in his lower back.