LaQuinton Ross and Nikola Cerina are separated during the Wednesday night scuffle. (Jamie Sabau / Getty Images)
Columbus, Ohio — LaQuinton Ross apologized to his Ohio State teammates for getting involved in a scuffle that led to his ejection.
Fortunately for them, he had already done his share to help them get a win before leaving.
Ross scored 16 points to lead No. 24 Ohio State to a 76-60 victory over Northwestern on Wednesday night in a game interrupted by the late scrum.
The fracas late in the game delayed play for several minutes while the officials deliberated penalties for the players. Northwestern’s Nikola Cerina also was ejected. The teams shot 10 free throws — a double foul, two technicals against Ross and one against Cerina — as a result of the shoving match.
“Things happen,” Cerina said. “I don’t really know. I have to look at the tape and see what actually happened.”
Cerina was subsequently suspended by the Big Ten for the Wildcats’ next game, Saturday at home against Indiana, for taking a swing with a closed hand at Ohio State’s Amir Williams. Ross was not suspended, but was disqualified for picking up two dead-ball contact technical fouls.
Ross was not available to speak with reporters.
Up until the skirmish, the Buckeyes overcame a slow start to take command.
The victory was Ohio State’s 33rd consecutive win over Northwestern in Columbus, dating to an 83-72 loss on Feb. 24, 1977, at old St. John Arena.
Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. each added 14 points for Ohio State. Sam Thompson, who had not hit double figures in his last eight games, had 11 for the Buckeyes (21-6, 8-6 Big Ten), who have won five of their last six.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d think I couldn’t shoot,” Thompson joked. “I just had open looks and was able to knock them down.”
The shoving took place at the 5:24 mark with the Buckeyes leading 66-50. It appeared that big men Cerina and Williams traded shoves, with Ross then shoving at least one player.
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.”
Drew Crawford scored 22 points and Tre Demps 14 for the Wildcats (12-15, 5-9), who have lost four in a row.
More Big Ten
Illinois 62, (at) Northwestern 49: Illinois: Nnanna Egwu had 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks as the Fighting Illini (15-12, 4-10 Big Ten) upset the home Gophers. Andre Hollins led Minnesota (17-10, 6-8 Big Ten) with 15 points but was 3-of-11 on 3-pointers.