Maryland women’s basketball dropped its first game in nearly two months Monday in Columbus, falling 98-87 to Ohio State.
The No. 2 Terps almost came back from a 16-point second-half deficit, but never quite got there. The loss drops Maryland to 26-2 for the season and 14-1 in the Big Ten, tied with No. 12 Ohio State.
The Buckeyes beat Maryland twice last season, and they proved to be the Terps’ kryptonite once again. They shot 63 percent from the field as a team and made 10 of 18 three-pointers, while Maryland could only manage 42 percent and 10-of-30.
Kelsey Mitchell had her way, dropping 31 points and dishing out six assists. She was the star in both of last year’s Buckeye victories over Maryland, totaling 61 points, but she had plenty of help in this one. Shayla Cooper added 20 points and eight rebounds, while Alexa Hart had 15 off the bench. Five Buckeyes finished in double figures.
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough led the Terps with 29 points; the senior surpassed 2,000 for her career in the third quarter. Brionna Jones added 21 and nine rebounds, while Destiny Slocum scored 10 of her 15 points after halftime.
Blair Watson was the biggest surprise for the Terps, notching all five of her points and six of her seven rebounds in the second half before fouling out in the waning minutes. The freshman hasn’t seen many high-leverage minutes of late, but her production helped keep Maryland close.
The game was played at a frantic back-and-forth pace from the opening tip. Jones and Walker-Kimbrough scored Maryland’s first 16 points before Slocum got on the board with a triple. After the Terps took a 19-18 lead, Ohio State went on a 12-0 run to storm out in front. The Buckeyes made their last 12 shots of the quarter to pull ahead 35-22.
That streak climbed to 15 in the second quarter, although Ohio State sprinkled in a few turnovers early in the frame. The Terps inched closer as both teams cooled off somewhat, and their deficit was just 49-40 at halftime.
Walker-Kimbrough and Jones had 13 points apiece at the half; Charles was a distant third with six. Mitchell and Cooper had 15 and 12, respectively.
Mitchell didn’t score in the second quarter, but she heated up again after the intermission, scoring eight in the first six minutes of the third. Ohio State brought its lead up to 16 halfway through the frame, but Maryland closed the quarter on a 14-0 tear, cutting it to 68-66.
The Buckeyes punched back. They shot 62 percent in the fourth quarter and brought the lead back up to double-digits with three minutes remaining. Maryland trimmed that to six, but couldn’t come any closer. The free-throw game began with roughly 90 seconds remaining, but Ohio State didn’t flinch.
Three things to know
1. The Buckeyes came out swinging. Ohio State had plenty to gain from this contest as well, and made a statement right away. The 35 first-quarter points are the most Maryland has allowed in a frame this year; the Terps gave up 40 in their last game. Making 15 straight field goals over 11 minutes certainly helps the cause.
2. Maryland’s defense wasn’t the same without Kaila Charles. The freshman battled foul trouble all night. She picked up her second midway through the opening quarter, and the Terps got outscored 25-8 to end the period. Charles added her third foul before halftime and her fourth early in the third quarter; as a result, she couldn’t make the impact her team needed.
3. The Terps’ outlook is dramatically different now. Maryland came in at No. 7 in the selection committee’s rankings, released at halftime, but it will be tough for the Terps to claw their way back there. Their resume isn’t strong enough to easily absorb a second loss, even though falling at Ohio State isn’t that damaging in a vacuum. Maryland will likely have another shot at the Buckeyes in the Big Ten tournament, but the big picture will be so much different.