After Ohio State went on a 7-0 run to level the score, 38-38, in the third quarter on Thursday, Maryland women’s basketball found itself locked in an all-too-familiar conference struggle.
Even with Ohio State’s leading rebounder out with an injury, the Terps surprisingly relinquished 11 offensive rebounds and had 15 turnovers at the half. And despite a hot shooting night, No. 11 Maryland continually hurt itself with self-inflicted errors.
But the Terps eventually settled down and used a 23-8 run in the middle of the second half to seize control of the game. And in spite of another inconsistent offensive performance, Maryland (17-2, 6-2 Big Ten) pulled away from Ohio State (7-10, 3-5) for a 70-57 win.
“I was disappointed with the turnovers and the lack of rebounding,” coach Brenda Frese said of the first half. “We’ve got to learn from that and we’ve got to be able to build from that.”
Not everything went wrong for the Terps at the start, though, as guard Taylor Mikesell had a hot hand in the first half of her homecoming game.
The Massillon, Ohio native drilled a corner triple on the first possession of the game and converted 3-of-4 shots from deep in the first half to further extend her Big Ten-leading three-point total. Mikesell cooled down after halftime but still finished with 14 points.
Forward Dorka Juhasz, the Buckeyes’ leading scorer and rebounder, didn’t play due to a left ankle injury she suffered against Michigan on Sunday. She scored 18 points and added 10 rebounds in Ohio State’s previous meeting with Maryland — a narrow 75-69 win for the Terps on Jan. 5.
But despite the absence of their best rebounder, the Buckeyes found success on the boards early on.
Of Ohio State’s first 17 misses from the field, it grabbed 10 off the glass. And although Maryland came out hot from the field, shooting 53.8 percent in the opening quarter, the Terps exited the first period tied 18-18.
“It starts with our energy,” forward Stephanie Jones said. “We’ve been working on that, so just locking in and knowing that we really need to come out and start our games right.”
To further complicate matters, guard Kaila Charles, who averages a team-leading 16 points per game, picked up her second foul in the first two minutes of the second quarter and played only nine first-half minutes.
Guard Blair Watson also found herself in foul trouble, picking up her second foul even earlier and subsequently failing to see the floor in the opening half’s final 12 minutes.
But even with so much going against them, the Terps relied on sharp shooting to keep the game close. Maryland shot 12-for-20 from the field and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes.
Jones was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field before halftime. The junior provided a spark with 14 points in the first half and finished with a team-high 20 points.
“As we battled through foul trouble in the post, [Jones] gave us a tremendous punch of scoring that we needed,” Frese said.
After a Mikesell three-pointer broke the 18-all tie, Maryland led the final 9:28 of the half. Still, the Buckeyes’ 7-0 edge in second-chance points prevented them from falling no more than a few possessions behind, and the Terps clung to a 32-28 advantage at the break.
Maryland began to pull away early in the second half. But following a Mikesell midrange jumper that gave the Terps a 38-31 lead, Ohio State quickly responded with a seven-point run to level the contest yet again.
The Terps had relinquished their largest lead of the game up to that point in less than two minutes, but Maryland ended the quarter on a 16-8 run. And after giving up double-digit offensive rebounds in the first half, the Terps limited the home squad to just two in the third quarter to take a 54-46 lead into the final period.
Maryland’s defense stifled Ohio State all evening, but it was even more stingy after the break. The Terps held the Buckeyes to just 9-for-28 shooting in the second half and only 11 fourth-quarter points.
Guard Carly Santoro torched Maryland for 21 points in the first three quarters, but in the final frame, she scored just two points — a garbage-time lay-in during the final minute — on 1-for-4 shooting.
When guard Channise Lewis drilled a three-pointer and later sunk a jumper in the paint with seven minutes left in the game, the run had ballooned to a 23-8 outburst to put the Buckeyes away for good.
Despite an uneven performance on the offensive end, Maryland eventually found its rhythm to beat Ohio State, 70-57, and escape another late-game struggle in conference play.
“We’ve got to bring it every single day,” Mikesell said. “I think our energy and our effort needs to be consistent every single game.”