Maryland men’s basketball had three separate chances to down Ohio State. It came up scoreless each time.
That’s in addition to seven missed free throws down the stretch. Coupled together, the Terps deservedly fell to the Buckeyes in double overtime, 79-75.
“Donta [Scott] misses two free throws, [Julian Reese] missed his four free throws, [Jahmir Young] had a couple of shots at the end,” Maryland head coach Kevin Willard said postgame. “Give [Ohio State] credit. They made some tough shots at the end and I think we’ve got to come up with a way to get stops.”
Maryland hasn’t just been unlucky to be 1-7 in games that come down to the final shot — it’s simply been unable to execute when most necessary. And Saturday’s loss showcased the worst of the Terps in crunch time.
What has most hurt the Terps in their seven one-possession losses — which have come by a combined 21 points — is extended scoring droughts in the final minutes of regulation.
Their defense — ranked by KenPom.com as the sixth-best in the nation — constantly does its part, but the offense can go cold at a moment’s notice. Fatigue may be a factor, as Maryland’s scoring comes almost exclusively from Young, Scott and Reese. The trio scored 58 of the team’s 75 points Saturday, but made just two combined shots in the final 15 minutes of play.
Against the Buckeyes, Maryland led with 4:27 to go in regulation, 60-55. Its next seven possessions: turnover, missed jumper, a split pair of free throws, missed jumper, missed jumper, two missed free throws and a missed shot at the buzzer.
“It’s just hard to put so much pressure on your defense constantly,” Willard said.
The teams went back and forth in the first overtime period, but in the final overtime, Maryland’s stagnant offense reappeared. The Terps led by two with 2:37 remaining but again failed to record another point the rest of the way. After Young missed a good look from three, Maryland had two chances in the final minute to tie or go ahead.
Willard took timeouts before both possessions, but both resulted in Scott losing the ball. His attempted pass to Reese was deflected away on the first possession, and his in-tight effort in the final seconds was blocked by Ohio State’s Zed Key.
“We’re in every game. It’s not like we’re not playing hard,” Willard said.
Maryland has lost six of its past 10 games. It had a chance to tie or take the lead on the final possession four times. The average margin of defeat in those losses has been four points.