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Three takeaways from No. 7 Maryland women’s basketball’s loss to No. 14 Ohio State

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The Terps were outplayed in the second half and were eventually handed their second loss of the season.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

No. 7 Maryland women’s basketball suffered its first Big Ten loss of the season after falling to No. 14 Ohio State in a tight 88-86 loss in Columbus, Ohio on Monday night.

The Terps struggled at the start of the contest and couldn’t string together much offense in the final frame. It’s just the second loss of the season for Maryland and its first loss since Nov. 28, as well as the first defeat the team has suffered in the Big Ten since January 2020.

Maryland now falls to a 11-2 record on the 2020-21 campaign. The Terps next play Wisconsin at home on Feb. 4, after Maryland’s matchup against Rutgers on Jan. 28 was postponed due to health concerns surrounding the Scarlet Knights’ program.

Here are my three biggest takeaways from the loss against Ohio State.

Slow starts in the first and third quarters handed the Terps their second loss

Slow starts have been a recurring theme for Frese’s squad in the last few outings. Before facing No. 14 Ohio State, Maryland struggled in the opening moments against both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Both of those slow starts resulted in wins. This time, a sloppy start to open both halves finally did the Terps in.

Maryland faced an uphill battle right out of the gates in the Big Ten showdown against the Buckeyes. Ohio State jumped out to a quick 15-7 lead and the Terps committed four turnovers in the first few minutes. The Terps were turning the ball over and couldn't figure out how to stop the Buckeyes’ offense.

“We were disappointed with how we started the game, but we just had to pick up our energy to go on our own run,” Katie Benzan said.

Ohio State shredded Maryland’s defense in the first quarter, going 12-for-20 from the field and hitting 50% of its three-point attempts. The Buckeyes took a six-point lead heading into the second quarter after Maryland stumbled early.

After a strong second quarter from the Terps, Maryland resorted back to its first quarter struggles in the third frame.

The Buckeyes jumped out to a quick 8-0 run over the first three minutes of the third quarter, which kept the game at a back-and-forth pace for the remainder of the contest. The Terps were out-rebounded by seven in the quarter and finished the frame being outscored 26-21.

“I thought it took us too long to be able to adjust to being able to move the basketball a little bit more and be a little bit more patient,” Frese said. “With a young team, you know, patience isn’t one of our best qualities yet. It’s an area that we’re growing into, but definitely an area for us we got to improve on.”

Ohio State was able to keep the game close enough to eventually pounce on an opportunity to go on a run in the fourth, which resulted in being the final blow to the Terps. If Maryland had consistent starts to the first and third quarters, it certainly would’ve been a much better showing against a strong Ohio State team.

“Ohio State started with their run, but basketball is a game of runs so we had to go on our runs and, unfortunately, that wasn’t sustained throughout the game,” Benzan said. “But hopefully next time we can learn from our mistakes.”

Ashley Owusu’s strong scoring output in the second half wasn’t enough to salvage a win

After scoring just 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting in the first half, Ashley Owusu came alive in the second half to give the Terps a fighting chance to pull off the road win.

In a third quarter in which Maryland struggled, Owusu totaled nine points to keep the Terps afloat. The next highest scoring Terp in the quarter collected just four points.

Owusu started to become much more aggressive in the second half and took advantage of her defensive matchups. She was driving, drawing fouls and finishing contact layups to keep the game close heading into the fourth quarter.

The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year was the only source of offense for Frese’s squad in the final frame. In the full 10 minutes of the fourth quarter, Owusu totaled 14 points on 4-for-10 shooting and went a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line. Every other Terp besides Owusu in the final quarter combined for just 12 points as the team struggled.

“I went cold and had a few turnovers, but I just [kept] my head up and did whatever I needed to do offensively and defensively to keep my team going,” Owusu said.

The sophomore finished the loss with a game-high 33 points, which is her second-highest scoring output of the season. Owusu’s season-high was 34 points against Penn State on Dec. 31.

Maryland’s depth finally faltered after a lengthy stretch of success

Outside of Owusu and Benzan combining for 55 of Maryland’s 86 points, there weren't many other bright spots in the Terps’ offensive performance. It was one of the first games this season where Maryland’s lack of depth due to injuries really took a stronghold on its play.

With Channise Lewis and Angel Reese both out, the Terps had just seven players see time on the floor against the Buckeyes. Diamond Miller and Chloe Bibby both struggled on the night, combining for 8-for-23 from the field. Bibby mustered just two made three-pointers on eight attempts and Miller had just six second half points.

The biggest surprise of the night might’ve been the letdown performance of forward Mimi Collins. After recording a career-high 17 rebounds in Maryland’s last game, Collins totaled zero against the Buckeyes. She played 16 minutes on the floor and just three minutes in the second half. Collins finished with zero points on 0-for-2 shooting from the floor and three turnovers.

“I mean she had 17 boards against Wisconsin, how do you come into this game and not have a single rebound? You can’t give us zero rebounds and three turnovers in 16 minutes,” Frese said.. “She’s capable. She’s a very talented player and she’s got to be able to bring that consistency to the table for us.”

Overall, the Terps’ depth was exposed in their second loss. Outside of Owusu and Benzan, the Terps shot just 12-for-33 as a team, just a 36.3% clip. Maryland especially suffered from its lack of depth in the fourth quarter, when everyone not named Owusu scored just 12 points to finish out the loss.

The Terps will certainly need better performances out of their role players, especially Collins and Bibby, if Maryland hopes to recapture its previous success.