Maryland basketball kept the good times rolling Friday night, taking down Ohio State 75-61 in Columbus for its seventh straight victory.
After a closely contested first half, the No. 19 Terps (16-3, 7-1 Big Ten) gained some separation early in the second period. Thanks to a balanced, efficient offensive attack, Maryland kept the Buckeyes (12-5, 2-4) at a distance all the way down the stretch. Maryland shot 25-of-43 (58 percent) from the floor and 11-of-17 from three, more than enough to overcome weaknesses in other areas.
Five Terps finished the night in double figures, led by Anthony Cowan Jr. with 20. Bruno Fernando dominated once again, tallying 13 points and 15 rebounds. Darryl Morsell and Aaron Wiggins chipped in 11 points each, while Jalen Smith added 10 points and six rebounds. C.J. Jackson and Duane Washington Jr. led Ohio State with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
Eric Ayala was on track to reach double-digit points himself, but he went down injured after colliding with Keyshawn Woods and limped off the court with some help. He didn’t return for the final 12:58, but Maryland ultimately didn’t need him to. His health will be important to monitor going forward.
The first half was incredibly back-and-forth, as the teams combined for 12 lead changes in the first 15 minutes. After Maryland went on a 7-0 run to take a 10-6 lead, no team scored more than two consecutive buckets until the Terps scored seven straight points to pull ahead 38-30 at the 4:39 mark. They kept that lead for the rest of the half, taking a 45-38 advantage into the locker room.
Maryland shot 15-of-24 (62.5 percent) and made 7 of 10 threes in the first half, but Ohio State kept pace thanks to its offensive rebounding. The Buckeyes pulled down seven offensive boards and led 12-0 in second-chance points, in addition to a 7-2 lead in points off turnovers.
The Terps came out of the break flat, turning it over three straight times as Ohio State opened the second half on a 6-0 run. After Mark Turgeon called timeout, though, Maryland responded with 10 straight points to stretch the lead back out to a game-high 11. The Buckeyes kept cutting into the lead, but Maryland kept answering. After a Kaleb Wesson three made it a six-point game at the 8:43 mark, Maryland went on an 8-0 run over the next 6:09 that all but iced the game.
Maryland’s next game is perhaps its toughest test of the season, as the Terps will visit No. 6 Michigan State on Monday night. The Spartans have won a program-record 19 straight conference games, which dwarfs Maryland’s streak of six.
Three things to know
1. Maryland keeps the wins coming. That’s seven straight wins overall, six straight in conference play and three straight on the road. The latter might be the most notable of all, as the Terps have already surpassed their total of two Big Ten away wins last year. Maryland’s 7-1 Big Ten record extends its stronghold on third place in the conference standings.
2. Turnovers and offensive rebounds kept Ohio State in it. The Buckeyes grabbed the game’s first seven offensive boards and finished the contest leading 10-4 in that category, which led to a 14-0 lead in second-chance points. Maryland also committed 19 turnovers, including 13 in the second half, while forcing just 10 giveaways in the game. With Ohio State shooting just 39 percent as a team, this game could have been an even more convincing blowout.
3. But hot shooting kept Maryland in front. The Terps shot their highest percentage (58.1 percent) since they hit 62.3 percent of their attempts against Mount St. Mary’s in November. Maryland was especially incendiary from three, drilling 11 of 17 shots from deep. Wiggins went 3-of-4 to lead the way, and Cowan and Ayala each drilled multiple threes themselves. Cowan’s triple in the last minute gave him 20 points on the night and served as the exclamation point.