By Jack Rothenberg
A strong first 14 minutes during which they built a six point lead against the fourth ranked Ohio State Buckeyes turned into an ugly final 26 minutes for the Maryland Terrapins who fell by a final score of 73-65 to the Buckeyes in College Park Monday night. The Buckeyes were explosive from beyond the arc with eight of their 10 threes coming in the first half when they shot 50 percent from long range.
A fast start for the Terps, especially Aaron Wiggins (17 points), resulted in an early eight point lead. After an Ohio State turnover, Wiggins put a Buckeyes defender in a spin cycle for one of his three first half buckets and a 13-5 advantage.
However, shortly thereafter, the lead had evaporated like water on a street during a sunny day. In a matter of 54 seconds the visitors made 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions turning Maryland’s 25-19 lead into a 28-25 deficit. The Buckeyes ended the half on a 16-5 run to take a 35-30 lead into the break.
Maryland kept pace with Ohio State in the first half due to stellar play down-low. Outscoring the Buckeyes 18-4 in paint points, and owning a rebounding edge 17-14 helped the Terps go to the locker room only down five. Junior guard Eric Ayala was big in that category collecting six of his career-high seven rebounds in the opening period.
Sophomore forward Donta Scott made Maryland’s last two field goals of the half but unfortunately for Maryland, there was a six minute gap between his layup with 6:34 to play and the time he knocked down a jumper with 0:36 seconds left in the first half.
The six minute first half drought looked like a desert oasis compared to the nearly seven and a half minute Maryland dry spell that opened the second. While the Buckeyes built their lead from five to 14, the Terps missed their first nine shots and added turnover before Scott finally dropped in a short jumper opening a veritable floodgate as Maryland scored on four of six possessions. However, Ohio State matched them score for score and maintained a comfortable mark.
The Terps cut their deficit to nine with four minutes left, but couldn’t string together enough stops on defense to close the gap any further.
As of now, Rutgers is Maryland’s only AP ranked opponent for the rest of the season. With their NCAA tournament hopes in the balance, the Terps will need to win the majority of their six games remaining and hopefully pick up another win against a top 25 team. Maryland’s next test will come on Feb. 14 against Minnesota.
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