After 67 days away from competitive basketball, Sunday’s Ohio State women’s basketball game featured the return of guard Jacy Sheldon. It was the first time the Buckeyes started the same starting five from the season opener since Nov. 30, against then-No. 18 Louisville Cardinals.
Unlike that Buckeyes win in Kentucky, Ohio State falls for the third-straight time against a ranked Big Ten team, with Sunday’s being the worst of their conference losses. The Scarlet & Gray plummet to the Maryland Terrapins, in College Park by a score of 54-90.
When the Scarlet & Gray’s social media team announced pregame that the Sheldon would return, there was expected excitement from Buckeye fans. Unfortunately for them, after the first quarter there wasn’t a lot of excitement remaining.
Ohio State started the game going 1-for-9 from the field. It gave the Terrapins a quick five-point lead. The Buckeyes responded with Sheldon hitting her first points of the game, a three-point shot, and forward Taylor Thierry following with a layup.
It looked like head coach Kevin McGuff’s side shook off some early rust, tied 7-7 halfway into the first quarter. However, it was only the beginning of Ohio State's struggles. Maryland came out of the media timeout with a 12-point run. A big part of that run was guard Abby Meyers. The Princeton transfer scored eight of the 12 points for the Terrapins, putting the home team up 19-7 after the first quarter.
The Buckeyes made three baskets the entire first quarter. Going into the second quarter though, Ohio State found some offensive rhythm. It only took the visitors 1:26 off the clock to make three shots.
While offense improved, Maryland’s kept in stride. Thierry helped, hitting two threes for the first time in her career, but the Terrapins made moves to get into the paint and get either layups or free throws.
Halfway into the second quarter, the Buckeyes already had nine fouls called against them. That meant forward Cotie McMahon had to go to the bench for parts of the first and second quarters, limiting her impact to only two points in the first half.
Ohio State entered the locker room still down 12 points in a 42-30 game at halftime. The Buckeyes shot 12-for-32 in the first two quarters, and aside from 15 points from Thierry, couldn’t get anyone else in a rhythm offensively, and had difficulty stopping Maryland defensively, allowing the Terps to shoot 53.1% from the floor.
Coming out of the second half, it was the Diamond Miller show early. The Maryland guard scored seven of the Terrapins’ first 10 points of the quarter. Miller and Thierry led their respective teams in scoring at the beginning of the third quarter, and on the court the intensity between the two got heated.
It began with a foul against Thierry by Miller, where the Ohio State guard hit both free throws. After the foul, Miller was talking to Thierry and the usually quiet Buckeyes sophomore responded, a rarity.
On the next possession for the Buckeyes, Thierry and Miller ran through a screen with Thierry’s elbow hitting Miller in the move. No foul was called but Maryland coach Brenda Frese and the Maryland fans were not too happy with the no call.
Instead of getting back with their words, the Terrapins pushed the lead. Maryland extended their lead up to 17 points. The only points the Buckeyes could muster after 4:30 of the second half was in the books was seven — all from Thierry.
At the end of the third quarter, Miller had 16 points in the quarter, outscoring the Buckeyes who only scored 14 points. Miller scored 27 points and eight rebounds after only three quarters. Overall, the Terrapins scored 15 of the 17 total points scored in the second half of the third quarter. Maryland stretched their 14-point halftime lead up to 25 points with still a quarter remaining.
Both teams came out for the final quarter, but the result was already set in stone. The Buckeyes had their worst defeat of the season, losing to the Terrapins 54-90. Before Sunday, their lowest point total in a game was 65 points.
In the fourth quarter, McMahon and Thierry each fouled out. The only starter McGuff left on the court was guard Taylor Mikesell, who scored 12 points on 5-for-19 shooting. A difficult day all around for Ohio State basketball.
No Positives for Buckeyes
Usually there’s something that sticks out as a good building point for Ohio State. An element of the game that gives the team hope for the upcoming games of the season. Against Maryland, outside of Sheldon being on the court, there wasn’t any of that to point to.
A moral win was Thierry’s offensive output. The Cleveland, Ohio native scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds. On the other side of the ball though, she was part of the few players chosen to focus on Miller, and the future WNBA Draft pick hurt the Buckeyes the entire game.
Offensively, the Buckeyes had another game where lack of movement in the half court created moments where players tried to make magic individually.
Also, Ohio State was turned over more by the Terrapins by a wide margin. The full court press wasn’t effective for coach McGuff’s side.
Ohio State’s lone win since the start of the three-game losing streak on Jan. 23 was against the Wisconsin Badgers, a team near the bottom of the standings. This Maryland defeat showed that there’s still work to be done.
Jacy Sheldon’s Return
After Sheldon’s return was announced, the next question was how much would she play and would she be effective immediately?
The first question had an answer from coach McGuff on Tuesday, saying Sheldon wouldn’t come back and play 40 minutes. Instead, an approach where she played more around 20 minutes.
At the end of the second quarter, Sheldon already played 19 minutes. Being down double-digits and losing teammates to the bench for fouls are likely candidates for higher-than-expected playing time. Even so, Sheldon had five points with five rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Through the third quarter, Sheldon played 25 minutes, but didn't need too many in the final quarter with Ohio State down so big.
The Buckeyes return home following Sunday’s trip to Maryland. On Wednesday, the Scarlet & Gray welcome the Minnesota Golden Gophers for their last multiple game home streak of the regular season.
Then, on Monday Feb. 13, the No. 4 Indiana Hoosiers try to replicate their home win, this time at the Schottenstein Center.