The Cornhuskers still led by five with 3:06 to go, but a 3-pointer by Della Valle and two Ross free throws tied the game with 1:52 remaining.
The 3-pointer was Della Valle’s first make in nine attempts, going back to Feb. 15.“This was probably the best moment I have had here,” Della Valle said. “It was a really tough game, but I am glad we came out with a win.”Petteway, the Big Ten’s leading scorer in conference play, missed a jumper, then fouled Ross on the other end with 59 seconds left. Ross hit both free throws, and after Nebraska was called for a travel on the other end, Craft sealed the game with a driving lay-in to put the Buckeyes up four with 20 seconds left.
Della Valle said the team never panicked. “We played with more energy and started picking things up full-court,” he said. “They turned the ball over a couple of times, we got our confidence back and we kept going.”Matta said that even when things weren’t going well for the Della Valle in the month of February, he always stayed positive.“He plays with no ego,” Matta said. “He just plays with a love for the game and just did a tremendous job for us. He was the difference in the game.”The Buckeyes now play archrival Michigan for a berth in the championship game, which would be the sixth-straight appearance in the final for Ohio State.“We just stay the same course,” Matta said. “I think in all the tournaments, you see kids stepping up and making plays. I think that you hope, at this point in the season, that everything you have done going back to Sept. 28 comes to fruition. There’s been a lot of ups and downs in these tournaments, but we have found ways to make plays.”