Ohio State had an opportunity to do what no other team in the Big Ten has been able to do to Maryland since it joined the conference: walk off the floor with a victory. The Terps came into Saturday on their home floor winners of their first 22 Big Ten games. On a day when Maryland was honoring its 2006 National Championship team, the Buckeyes scored a huge 80-71 in.
Sophomore Kelsey Mitchell scored 28 points for Ohio State to lead all scorers, including 17 in the second half. Fellow second year player Alexa Hart added 20 points of her own, along with six rebounds.
Much like Thursday against Michigan State, today's first quarter was sloppy. Ohio State missed its first seven shots from the field and turned the ball over six times. A jump hook by Hart at the 4:45 mark was the Buckeyes' first made field goal.
Junior All-Big Ten guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough got Maryland off to a solid start with seven points and three steals in the first frame en route to an 18-14 lead. Ohio State would have been in a bigger hole had it not been for the furious effort put in by junior forward Shayla Cooper, who scored seven points of her own, pulled down four rebounds, and came away with two steals.
The pace picked up in the second quarter, as both sides looked to run at every opportunity. Senior Brene Moseley sparked the Terps with a 10-point quarter, on her way to a half-high 13. Mitchell did all she could to keep the Buckeyes in contact, slashing to the hoop and getting to the free throw line. The preseason Big Ten Player of the Year scored nine of her team-high 11 points in the second, and just a three-point deficit, 40-37, at the half.
Maryland shot nearly 52 percent from the floor in the half, but turned it over 11 times. Hart and Cooper combined for 19 points and 11 rebounds in the paint for Ohio State, which was crucial against a Terrapins' squad that has outrebounded the opposition by more than 20 per game. Hart closed out the half on a high note, literally, as she scored on a baseline out of bounds lob from senior Cait Craft with one second on the shot clock.
Mitchell finally broke her three-point shooting drought to start the third quarter, knocking one down after twelve consecutive misses dating back to Thursday. The Buckeyes surged early, taking a 46-42 lead and forcing a Maryland timeout.
Sophomore Kristen Confroy, a native of Solon, Ohio, stopped the bleeding for the Terps, drilling a corner three, followed the next possession by another triple from Walker-Kimbrough. That's when Moseley and Mitchell started putting on a show for the folks in College Park, knocking down open jumpers and creating for their teammates off the dribble at a frenetic pace.
Mitchell scored 10 points in the quarter, as Ohio State took a 61-57 lead into the fourth.
A pair of Mitchell jumpers and a long-range make by senior Ameryst Alston gave the Buckeyes their biggest lead of the game, 70-63, but Maryland would not go away. The Terps hit the offensive glass, Moseley continued to probe, and a three-pointer by Walker-Kimbrough with just over three minutes left cut the lead to 72-69.
Mitchell's two biggest points of the game came on an Alston miss from three with two minutes remaining. Snagging a weakside offensive rebound, the Cincinnati native got an easy put-back, extending the Ohio State lead back out to seven, 76-69. She followed that up with a no-look, over-the-head dish to Hart on the next possession for a nine-point advantage that proved to be too much for Maryland to come back from.
Moseley paced the Terrapins, now 12-2 on the season, with 20 points and 10 assists, while Walker-Kimbrough added 16.
The Buckeyes will be back on the floor in Columbus on Thursday against Indiana. The game will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. ET and will air on BTN Plus.