Maryland women’s basketball hasn’t had an easy go of things thus far in conference play. Both of the team’s losses have come against Big Ten foes, and that’s just in the past month.
Following an uncharacteristic beatdown at the hands of Michigan State last Thursday, the Terps needed a convincing victory to get back on track and into the win column once again. Despite blowing a double-digit lead in the first half, the Terps used a strong run after the break to pull away for a 12-point win over Penn Sate, the second such time they’ve beaten the Nittany Lions this season.
Maryland will go back on the road to face another team for the second time this season, which is happening for the second game in a row. The Terps will get another crack at Ohio State, this time in Columbus. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET and can be watched on the Big Ten Network.
What happened last time
The Terps entered the Jan. 4 matchup having just lost their first game of the season, a New Year’s Eve defeat by C. Vivian Stringer and Rutgers. That pushed their record down to 12-1, and a drop in the rankings was coming very soon. Ohio State, on the other hand, had been struggling all season. The Buckeyes came to College Park with just a 4-7 mark on the year, looking to pull off an upset and get their first Big Ten victory of the season.
Maryland got out to a seven-point lead by halftime, but Ohio State never quit. In fact, the visitors rallied in the third quarter to take a lead into the final 10 minutes of play. But as they’ve done so many times this season, the Terrapins utilized a couple of runs in the fourth period to pull away for the win late.
Kaila Charles was the MVP for Maryland, playing a total of 37 minutes to make sure Maryland didn’t lose a second straight outing. The junior led all scorers with 24 points on 7-of-15 shooting, her fifth 20-point performance of the season to that point. Stephanie Jones was also solid once again, putting up 16 points and adding seven rebounds to add to the team’s sizable lead in the rebounding battle.
What’s happened since
The win over Ohio State was the first in a stretch of three consecutive victories for the Terps, who were hoping to recapture that early-season magic and go on another extended streak of undefeated play. Beating Nebraska and Michigan were relatively stress-free, but the Terps met their match 12 days after the game against the Buckeyes, losing handily to Michigan State on the road in East Lansing.
Ohio State seemed to get a spark after the loss to Maryland, as perhaps the idea that they could hang around with powerhouse teams led to a higher level of confidence. Immediately following the loss to the Terps, the Buckeyes went on a three-game win streak to start making their resume more appealing. After beating Indiana, they knocked off Michigan State and then squeaked by in overtime against the Nittany Lions.
Three things to watch
1. Do the Terps make it easier on themselves this time? Ohio State is a tough team that plays with a lot of heart, but its 7-9 record thus far is indicative of the talent at this point in the rebuild. Back on Jan. 4, the Terps were well on their way to a blowout victory before playing a terrible third quarter and blowing the lead they had built. This time around, Maryland will be on the road, and playing four strong quarters could be even more difficult.
2. Who wins the rebounding battle? In nonconference play, Maryland dominated each and every opponent on the glass, at one point leading the nation in boards on both ends of the court. But as Big Ten play has gotten underway and the competition has gotten stiffer, the Terps haven’t been able to rebound the ball at that same level. Ohio State has enough size to make life tough for the Terrapins, and it’ll take a complete team effort to get an edge in that important category.
3. Will Dorka Juhasz wreak havoc again? Though just a freshman, Juhasz has already established herself as the leader of the Buckeyes. She has paced the team so far this season with 12.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, putting together one of the more impressive resumes in the nation for a first-year player. Against Maryland in early January, Juhasz finished second in the game with 18 points and led all players with 10 boards. She was extremely efficient as well, shooting 8-of-12 from the floor in 37 minutes of action.