A two-minute field-goal drought in the second half proved to be one of No. 13 Maryland women’s basketball's most productive offensive stretches Thursday night at Xfinity Center against No. 18 Ohio State.
Despite going cold from the field, the Terps used free-throw shooting to go on a 12-0 run over three and a half minutes to regain the lead, which they never relinquished, and topple the Buckeyes, 77-72.
“I just want to be great,” head coach Brenda Frese said after the game. “I want to win. I want to beat everyone. What I’m most proud of right now about this team is that they’re not feeling sorry for themselves. They just continue to fight and play for one another.”
Thursday night in College Park, Maryland, looked a lot like it did on Jan. 20 in Columbus, the last time Maryland (20-6, 12-3 Big Ten) took on Ohio State (19-5, 11-4).
Both meetings started with a turnover-laden first half in which the Terps gave the ball away 10 times, and senior guard Taylor Mikesell, who returned to College Park for the first time since transferring in 2020, continued to torment her former team with 29 points. A difference between the two matchups, Maryland left the court with applause from its home fans following a wildly entertaining affair.
“The crowd was great,” redshirt junior forward Mimi Collins said. “We had a great crowd tonight. We had a student section. It was just very pleasing to see them here and just seeing the overall crowd that we have and having everybody into it.”
Junior guard Ashley Owusu missed her fourth consecutive game for the Terps. The Virginia native hasn’t played since she injured her ankle on Feb. 3 against Michigan State. Owusu took the court during the team’s warm-up, but she spent yet another evening watching from the bench.
Sophomore forward/guard Angel Reese, who has started every game this season, began the night on the bench after missing part of the pre-match shootaround. Frese kept her leading scorer out of the contest for the first five and a half minutes. In her absence, Ohio State took an early 4-0 lead, and while Maryland battled back, the visitors held a seven-point lead at the frame’s end. But that was about as far as the Buckeyes’ offensive would take them.
“We got kind of bogged down at the end of the first half,” Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff said. “Our offenses kind of slowed down in the second quarter, and that was when they turned the tide.”
When the dust settled, Maryland bested its opponents in rebounding (44-30), second-chance points (19-5), bench points (23-2) and points in the paint (32-18). The Terps have now won eight consecutive matches, and the past two have come against ranked opponents. They currently sit in second place in the conference standings and end the regular season with No. 9 Michigan and No. 5 Indiana.
“All I can say is that whoever has to go against us, it’s just a scary sight,” Collins said. “We’re peaking at the right time, and we’re on a great positive mindset, and we’re just rolling at this point.”
Reese led all Maryland scorers with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Junior guard Diamond Miller had 18 points, Collins added 12 and graduate guard Katie Benzan contributed 11.
Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon was the only other player for the away side to reach double digits; the third-year player had 22 points and five rebounds.
Three things to know
1. Xfinity got loud. With a good portion of the lower bowl filled by the Maryland faithful, and the university band in full force, the cacophony inside Xfinity Center never waned and picked up steam in the third when Collins hit a tough and-one. With the Big Ten regular-season title hanging in the balance, the home supporters knew the implications of a heavyweight conference bout, and they showed up when the Terps needed them.
2. Mikesell can’t do it alone. After torching Maryland for 33 points and five 3-pointers in January, Mikesell again showcased her prolific offensive skill set. The senior guard went off for 29 points on Thursday night while shooting 12-for-16 from the field. Still, the Ohio native couldn’t do it all as her team fell in College Park. In the past two games, Maryland has faced two of the Big Ten’s top scorers — Mikesell and Iowa sophomore guard Caitlin Clark — and face two more offensive juggernauts to end the season in Michigan and Indiana.
3. Resting Owusu. Owusu’s contributions on the night came during the pregame warmup, where she went through the team’s stretching regiment and took some shots. Before the tip-off, the third-year guard was honored for winning the 2021 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, given to the nation’s top shooting guard. With the coaching staff opting to be patient with Owusu’s rehab, it remains to be seen whether or not she’ll play on Sunday versus Michigan.