COLUMBUS, Ohio — Several seconds after a 3-pointer from guard Aaron Wiggins capped a red-hot first half for Maryland men’s basketball, Ohio State guard C.J. Jackson showed his frustration by hurling the ball down the length of the Value City Arena court, vaguely in the direction of the Buckeyes basket.
The end of the second half would be even more demoralizing for the home team.
With the game already in hand and under a minute remaining, guard Anthony Cowan rose for a 30-footer and swished it, polishing off his 20-point performance and the Terps’ seventh straight win.
The No. 19 Terps held Ohio State scoreless for over six minutes late in the second half to ice a game in which they shot 65 percent from three-point range, triumphing 75-61 on the road and holding the Buckeyes to 39 percent shooting from the field.
“I don’t take this win lightly,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “This is a heck of a win for our program.”
When the calendar turned to 2019, Maryland was unranked, still recovering from a deflating loss to Seton Hall that had tanked its stock. Meanwhile, Ohio State looked as strong as it had all season, with a 12-1 record earning the squad the No. 14 ranking in the country.
But by Friday, what had once looked like a daunting road test for Turgeon’s squad had turned into an eminently winnable game. The Terps (16-3, 7-1 Big Ten) came in ranked No. 19, on a six-game winning streak since that loss to the Pirates. The Buckeyes (12-5, 2-4) were losers of three straight and had dropped out of the rankings.
Maryland did more than enough to make sure both teams kept their streaks intact.
“The first half, we were terrific offensively,” Turgeon said. “Second half, we weren’t quite as good offensively; we turned it over. But then we stepped it up on defense.”
Before halftime, the Terps’ deficiency on the boards prevented them from building the kind of lead their shooting could have given them. The Buckeyes had seven offensive rebounds before Maryland had secured any. At halftime, Ohio State had a 12-0 advantage in second-chance points.
“We were doubling [in the post], so we were always scrambling,” Turgeon said. “I didn’t feel like we could ever get a rebound in the first half.”
Forward Kyle Young scored consecutive putbacks with about six minutes left in the first to tie the game at 30, but the Terps then went on an 8-0 run in under a minute to gain some separation for the first time.
Smith drained a 3-pointer, an Ohio State turnover led to a Darryl Morsell transition score and Bruno Fernando converted an and-one.
“First half, it was challenging for us,” Fernando said. “We were trying to make a lot of adjustments in the first half, trying to get comfortable and all that.”
When it came to shooting, though, the Terps looked much more at home than the Buckeyes. Ohio State went 3-for-13 from three-point range before halftime, while Wiggins’ 3-pointer gave Maryland seven makes on 10 long-range attempts and pushed its halftime lead to 45-38.
Maryland opened the second half with three consecutive turnovers — two by Cowan and one by Fernando — allowing Ohio State to score six straight points and cut the lead to one.
The sloppy start forced Turgeon to take a timeout, and his team responded by going on a 10-0 run and holding the Buckeyes scoreless for nearly five minutes.
“[Turgeon] told us we were going to be OK,” Cowan said. “And then … we just kept going defensively.”
Morsell again sparked that run, nailing a triple for three of his 11 points, and Fernando finished it with five points as part of his 13-point, 15-rebound double-double. By the time the Buckeyes answered, Maryland’s lead had ballooned to 11, and it reached 12 when Wiggins hit another trey shortly after.
Guard Eric Ayala, the Terps’ fourth-leading scorer, missed the final 13 minutes due to a hip injury the team doesn’t expect to be a problem long-term, but Maryland still had five players in double figures. Along with Cowan, Fernando and Morsell, Wiggins scored 11 and Jalen Smith had 10.
“Everyone was in the game the whole time,” Cowan said. “Guys have been really stepping up and giving us great minutes.”
Maryland got its role players involved, and the Buckeyes couldn’t get their star going. Forward Kaleb Wesson finished with 11 points, with the Terps’ bigs harassing him every time he got a touch in the post and Fernando getting him into foul trouble early in the second half.
Wesson did hit a 3-pointer with 8:43 remaining to pull the Buckeyes within six, but Ohio State wouldn’t score again until the 2:32 mark. Maryland had cooled down as well, yet still went on an 8-0 run over that span to ice the game.
The win was the Terps’ third straight on the road, giving them more Big Ten wins away from Xfinity Center than they managed all of last year and maintaining the upward trajectory they’ve established over the past three weeks.
“We’re clicking a little bit,” Cowan said. “Still got a long ways to go.”