clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Maryland women’s basketball comes up short vs. Ohio State, 79-69, in Big Ten title game

New, 36 comments

For the first time since joining the conference, the Terps aren’t coming home with a tournament championship.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Ohio State vs Maryland Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

With 5:59 left in Sunday night’s Big Ten championship game, it looked like Maryland women’s basketball could pull off a comeback for the ages. Channise Lewis found Kaila Charles for a transition layup to cut Ohio State’s lead to 61-59, a lead that was 55-37 less than 10 minutes earlier.

But the Terps could not finish the job, and the Buckeyes made plays down the stretch to knock off Maryland, 79-69, and win the Big Ten tournament title.

Both teams shot 40 percent from the field, but Ohio State won the game with offensive rebounding and points off turnovers. Although both teams had 44 rebounds, the Buckeyes outrebounded Maryland 30-18 in the first half, including 14 on the offensive end. They also clamped down on the defensive glass, which allowed them to get out on transition and go on a big run.

Ohio State took advantage of Maryland’s mistakes as well, scoring 19 points off 12 Maryland turnovers. That allowed the Buckeyes to take the championship despite an uneven day from Kelsey Mitchell. The three-time Big Ten Player of the Year scored 23 points on 7-of-20 shooting, and was never able to hurt the Terps consistently. Ohio State also got solid contributions from Stephanie Mavunga and Linnae Harper, who both had double-doubles.

Charles led Maryland with 22 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, and Kristen Confroy had 17 points, six rebounds and four assists and came up huge in the third quarter.

As expected, this game was up-tempo and back-and-forth in the opening minutes. Maryland was solid on both ends, shooting 58.8 percent from the field while holding the Buckeyes to 25 percent shooting in the opening frame. That usually means a big lead, but Ohio State had nine offensive rebounds and took seven more shots than Maryland in the first quarter. Confroy found her three-point stroke early, hitting two three-pointers in the final two minutes of the quarter, and the Terps led 22-17 after the first 10 minutes.

Ohio State flipped the script in the second quarter. Maryland went cold and couldn’t get second chance opportunities, and the Buckeyes took advantage. After Ieshia Small hit a jumper to give Maryland a 24-21 lead, Ohio State went on a 12-0 run in the next three minutes, and the Buckeyes continued to roll and took a 13-point lead into the locker room.

Maryland tried to claw its way back into the game in the third quarter, but couldn’t string enough points together in the early stages. Ohio State remained in control, and it led 55-37 with 5:08 left in the quarter after Mitchell found Mavunga for a layup after she cleared out on a missed shot.

The Terps needed a spark, and found it in Confroy. After Ieshia Small and Charles had back-to-back layups, the senior added to the run with two threes. Then on Maryland’s next possession, she corralled in a miss off a Charles jumper and swished in a floater. The Terps closed the quarter on a 12-2 run thanks to eight straight points from Confroy, and trailed 57-49 heading into the final frame.

Maryland continued to close the gap in the fourth quarter. Both teams struggled offensively in the first few minutes, but the Terps were better and cut the lead to two with 5:58 remaining.

But Ohio State did not flinch, and Mitchell hit a three on the next possession to push the lead back to five. The Terps went cold in the last few minutes, and the Buckeyes used a quick five-point burst down the stretch to seal the victory.

Maryland heads into the NCAA Tournament with a 25-7 record, and will find out its tournament fate on Selection Monday on March 12.

Three things to know

  1. Maryland tried to fight back, but came up short. Like against South Carolina back in November, Maryland could’ve quit when it went down big in the third quarter. The Terps rallied back and cut the lead to two, but the Buckeyes didn’t flinch and made shots down the stretch.
  2. Kristen Confroy showed up in a big way. The senior has been quiet recently, but Maryland would not have been in this game without her. She showed as clear a sense of urgency as she has in her career, and had her highest scoring game in over three months.
  3. Maryland’s seeding is up in the air. The Terps came into this weekend fighting to host the first and second rounds, and probably needed to win the Big Ten tournament to guarantee hosting the first two weekends. Now, Maryland will have to wait until Selection Monday to learn its fate.