Maryland women’s basketball was suffocating Ohio State on defense. The Buckeyes could barely get an inbounds pass in, and when they did, the Terps came with an aggressive trap, swarming to the ball handler and ripping the ball away. On offense, even though it was missing shots, Maryland was tenacious on the glass, getting multiple offensive rebounds.
But there was one problem: It was too little, too late.
That effort — which allowed Maryland to go on a 14-5 run in the final 1:47 — wasn’t enough to overcome the lethargic effort from the contest’s first 38 minutes. The Terps lost to No. 14 Ohio State in a game that saw their sluggish and inconsistent play catch up to them, ending a 10-game winning streak with a Big Ten loss that brings them closer to the pack.
“I think our team woke up and saw that they were gonna lose,” coach Brenda Frese said. “If we were to put half the amount of energy into the first three quarters that we did late game, great things would have been in store for us.”
The game began poorly for Maryland, with the team turning the ball over five times in the first five minutes. On its first offensive possession, Ashley Owusu tried to fit a pass to Mimi Collins down low but couldn’t get it over a Buckeye defender.
Then, with about six minutes left in the opening frame, Owusu and Chloe Bibby were stripped on back-to-back possessions, leading to wide-open layups.
“They were really aggressive attacking the ball, which we knew they do a great job digging the basketball and using their high hands to [deflect], to [steal],” Frese said.
Even beyond the turnovers, the Terps just seemed slow. About one minute into the game, Diamond Miller had an open layup but left it a bit short. Both she and Owusu were jogging and unable to get back on the other end, leading to an uncontested layup for Ohio State’s Jacy Sheldon.
Maryland was beaten to many loose balls, as seen in its first-half rebounding.
“I thought between [turnovers] and the rebounding, there were two areas that they really exposed us with,” Frese said. “They’re just a team that is very scrappy, I mean I thought their guard play dominated for 40 minutes tonight.”
Collins in particular had a rough evening. One game after grabbing 17 rebounds, the redshirt sophomore didn’t pull any boards and only played once after the first three minutes of the third quarter. In her minutes, the Terps were soundly outrebounded, and her coach was displeased.
“How do you come into this game and not have a single rebound?” Frese asked. “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.”
This is the third straight game the Terps have looked sluggish off the opening tip. But against Minnesota and Wisconsin, they were eventually able to ratchet up the intensity to defeat opponents with a combined 3-16 Big Ten record.
But against a better opponent, Maryland wasn’t able to win with one or two runs. Despite a second quarter in which the Terps outscored the Buckeyes by nine and a moment with 7:34 left in the fourth quarter where they led 67-62, the lack of a consistent 40-minute effort doomed Maryland against a team with enough talent to make them pay.
“I think they’ve gotten into a rut these last three games,” Frese said. “It’s taking that ownership that we’re ready to go from the tip, we’re ready to punch first … We’re more than capable, so it’s a collective energy that’s got to come from our team.”