Back on Jan. 26, the Ohio State women’s basketball Buckeyes beat the Maryland Terrapins in Columbus. The victory gave the Buckeyes their first win against a ranked opponent in the 2021-22 season and continued their momentum leading to a 9-1 start to the 2022 calendar year. The rematch on Thursday night between the No. 18 Ohio State and the No. 13 Maryland in College Park, Mary. had all the makings of a conference heavyweight fight.
The two teams with the hottest runs in B1G clashed and on Thursday, but it was the Maryland Terrapins that made the most of their chances. No. 13 and No. 18 played a close game for almost three quarters, but a 12-point Maryland run in the third quarter put the Buckeyes away 77-72.
For all of the excitement, the game had an odd start. Before the jump, Maryland had a pair of absences; first, junior guard Ashley Owusu was listed as doubtful. Joining her on the bench was sophomore guard/forward Angel Reese. Owusu’s was for an ankle injury that’s kept her out of form since she left Maryland’s Feb. 3 victory over Michigan State. Reese’s starting lineup absence was a mystery, as the star Terp starting the on the bench was for “undisclosed reasons.”
On the court, the Buckeyes and Terps went back and forth in the first quarter as Maryland had a clear plan to stop Taylor Mikesell. Ohio State’s scoring threat didn’t have a chance to get open from three in the early going, but had ample chances inside. Mikesell missed her one shot from beyond the arc in the opening stanza, but was 4-for-5 in the quarter. Those eight points led the Buckeyes.
Reese came in for Maryland halfway through the quarter and instantly brought an intensity to the game, however, Ohio State held the Maryland star to three points. What worked for Buckeyes was their press. After forcing 18 in their January victory, the Buckeyes forced six turnovers in the first quarter.
In the second, Mikesell and the Buckeyes found their long-distance stride. Rikki Harris revisited her three-point bank shot from Monday’s win at Illinois. Following Harris’ triple was a pair of threes from Mikesell. With six minutes remaining in the half, Mikesell decided that it didn’t matter if she was guarded from deep. A couple feet behind the arc, Mikesell made her first of two in the quarter, bringing her first half total to 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting.
Maryland’s a top-ranked team for a reason. While the Buckeyes shooting heated up, Maryland matched it to keep the momentum from staying in the Scarlet & Gray’s side of the court. Mikesell and Jacy Sheldon put the Buckeyes on a six-point run. Right after, Maryland had a six-point run of their own.
The Buckeyes had as lead of as many as 11 points in first half, but going into the break, were up only five at 39-34.
After Ohio State gave up only four turnovers in the first half, Maryland started the second by forcing two quick ones. The Terrapins scored the first six points of the third quarter and grabbed their first lead since the 5:25 mark of the first quarter, but Ohio State responded after a quick timeout by coach Kevin McGuff.
That time to gather composure worked, albeit momentarily. Mikesell and Braxtin Miller came out of the timeout each connecting from downtown, but Maryland kept pace. The Buckeyes reclaimed a three point lead, but halfway into the third, Maryland had cut it down to a single point.
After another timeout, three questionable officiating moments that all went against the Buckeyes ended with a technical foul being called against an obviously aggrieved McGuff. The first, an offensive foul off the ball, was assessed to Mikesell. Running off of a screen, Mikesell received the whistle for holding the arm of Maryland freshman Sheyenne Sellers.
Then, Sheldon attacked the basket, but went to the ground after pressure from Sellers, without a whistle. On the subsequent Maryland run, Buckeye forward Rebeka Mikulasikova was called for a foul on Reese, which sent McGuff all the way out to half court.
The OSU coach yelled at the refereeing crew, holding up five fingers on one hand and one on the other to represent the five fouls called on the Buckeyes in the third quarter to the one against Maryland.
The Terps used those fouls to mount a 12-point run, with eight coming from the free throw line, and built a nine-point, third quarter lead. Another Buckeye timeout was called not really to calm the OSU players, but McGuff himself, and Ohio State went into the fourth down five after senior forward Tanaya Beacham and Sheldon both hit shots.
On her own bobblehead night, Maryland senior Katie Benzan and Mikesell, exchanged threes to set up the final quarter. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, Maryland went on another run; included in that streak, Sheldon committed a fourth foul and went to the bench when Ohio State needed her the most.
Ohio State never fully recovered from that third quarter, 12-point run. For each Mikesell three in the fourth, Maryland answered back with fast break after fast break. The Buckeyes shooting wasn’t crisp enough to challenge the Terrapins to the final minutes, and even with a 29-point night by Mikesell, and eight points in the final 2:19 by Sheldon, Maryland pulled away in the 77-72 victory.
Points Outside of the Dynamic Scoring Duo
While Mikesell and Sheldon both had strong nights on the scoring section of the stat sheet, it was the rest of the Buckeyes that couldn’t convert. Mikesell’s 29 and Sheldon’s 22 were the only two Ohio State players in double digits. Only Harris got close, adding nine.
Of the Buckeyes 72 points, 70 came from starters. Of that, only 12 were not from one of the two guards aptly nicknamed “the splash sisters.”
Ohio State’s had a fantastic run in 2022, losing only twice compared to ten wins. It’s a run that’s put the Buckeyes in contention for the title, but to go any further the rest of the team has to step up.
It’s never easy playing away from home. Not only is there the home court advantage of the crowd, but sometimes the refereeing doesn’t land an equal balance. It was that unbalanced evening that turned the Buckeyes from competing with the Terrapins to hustling to make up a deficit.
Foul troubles started much earlier than that third quarter stretch. After freshman Taylor Thierry came in she earned quick fouls. The energy-filled freshman Thierry became more subdued. Not only Thierry, but the Buckeyes as a whole lost a lot of that energy as the first half came to a close, and Maryland exploited it in the second half.
Even with the defeat, the Buckeyes aren't completely out of the running for the Big Ten regular season title. The three teams ahead of them: Indiana, University of Michigan and Maryland all have a tough stretch to end the season. Maryland faces Michigan and Indiana in the next eight days. Indiana adds a back-to-back against No. Iowa and Michigan ends their season against Iowa.
Ohio State has a less impressive group of games, welcoming Wisconsin and Penn State to Columbus before ending the season at Michigan State. If the Buckeyes win out, and the top three teams all succeed in slowing each other down, an unexpected season of Buckeyes results could come with a piece of hardware.
Even if they don’t go all the way, securing a top four spot for the Big Ten tournament gives the Buckeyes an extra day off; which is a value for a team that expects to play in the NCAA Tournament in March.