The Ohio State Women's Basketball team finished out the toughest stretch of their non-conference schedule last week and, though they certainly made things interesting, ultimately fell short in two tough games.
On Wednesday, the Buckeyes took on 8th-ranked Maryland on the road as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, a situation that has usually not ended well for the Terrapins' opponents, as they entered the game 6-0 all-time in Challenge games.
The Buckeyes never led in the game, but kept things closer than the 67-55 score indicated, being within three points with under three minutes left to play. An 11-2 run by Maryland to close out the game was the difference.
The Terrapins' strength in the paint and on the glass proved too much to overcome, as they grabbed 23 offensive rebounds and scored 34 points in the paint.
"Maryland is a terrific team. They're talented and well coached and they play hard," said Ohio State Head Coach Kevin McGuff after the game. "The difference was they got too many points in transition and too many points on offensive rebounds. We have to get better in those areas to have a chance to win a game like this on the road."
Ameryst Alston had 18 points to lead three Buckeyes in double figures.
Sunday found Ohio State playing their third ranked opponent in a row, as they hosted No. 24 Gonzaga. In a game in which they found themselves trailing by 18 midway through the first half, the team was just seconds away from pulling off a major comeback and upset.
Alston, who again scored 18 to pace the Buckeyes, hit a jumper with seven seconds remaining for a 58-57 lead. That proved to be too much time for Gonzaga, though, as a short jumper by Shaniqua Niles at the buzzer gave the Bulldogs a one-point win, 59-58.
"Both teams made really big plays down the stretch, they just had the chance to make the last one, and to their credit, they made it," McGuff said. "That's a tough way to go out. One team was going to be really disappointed today because both teams played really hard and put a lot into it."
The loss dropped the Buckeyes to 6-5 on the season with five games remaining before Big Ten play begins. They will host a one-loss Army team on Friday night before traveling to Cincinnati for a Sunday afternoon tilt with the Bearcats.
The three-game losing streak has not been without positive notes, particularly given the stiff competition Ohio State has faced. Being battle-tested should only help as they move on to a tough conference schedule.
"We just have to continue to fight, scratch, and claw, and if we show that same kind of fight that we showed in the second half [against Gonzaga], I think good things are going to start to happen for us," McGuff said.