Fatigued Buckeyes Upset By Maryland on the Road
Playing their 4th game in 8 days, the last two away from home, fatigue was clearly a factor and Maryland took advantage, upsetting the Buckeyes 75-60, ending Ohio State’s hopes to share a Big Ten title. Malaki Branham dropped in 13 to lead the Buckeyes, with Cedric Russell adding 12, while Jamari Wheeler and E.J. Liddell each chipped in 11 for Ohio State who dropped to 18-8 and 11-6 in conference play. The Terps were led by Fatts Russell’s 27 and Eric Ayala’s 23 to move to 14-15 and 6-12 in the Big Ten. Maryland exploded in the second half to pull away in large part due to a lackluster defensive performance by the Buckeyes, the Terps, who have underachieved all season, put it together for at least one game, resembling more of the team that was expected coming into the year.
Maryland got off to a hot start, scoring the first 8 and Chris Holtmann called timeout just less than 3 minutes into the basketball game. E.J. Liddell broke the run, drilling a 15 footer and Kyle Young powered up a short jumper off the glass to cut the lead in half. The Terps scored off the bounce to go back ahead 6, but Malaki Branham got into the lane off the bounce and kicked to Jamari Wheeler in the left corner for a three, the Buckeyes first triple in 5 attempts and at the under 16 media timeout, Maryland was on top 10-7. Branham threw in a runner mid lane to cut the lead to one and after a Terp miss, Branham found Young at the rim and the Buckeyes took their first lead. After Maryland hit a long jumper to regain the lead, Liddell was fouled attempting a three and banged down all three free throws to put Ohio State up two and at the under 12, Ohio State now led 14-12 and had outscored the Terps 14-4 over the last 6 ½ minutes. Maryland tied it when a defensive breakdown on a switch created a wide open dunk and took the lead when a runner fell while the Buckeyes remained ice cold from the floor. A Liddell fader from the right wing dropped to re-tie it, but a pair of Terp free throws put Maryland back ahead. A Buckeye turnover led to a Terp breakout and a lay-in put Maryland up four. Cedric Russell stopped the Terp momentum with a three from the top, but another Maryland bucket answered and the Terps were up three. Branham hit a mid range jumper to cut it back to one, but a long triple by Eric Ayala gave Maryland a four point lead. Russell answered right back with another three, but Ayala got into the lane and scored off the glass to put the Terps up three. Donta Scott hit a jump hook in the lane to put Maryland up five and Ohio State called timeout with 3:43 to go in the half that Maryland was leading 29-24. A jump hook by Young trimmed the lead, but a Buckeye turnover led to a Terp breakout and it turned into a bucket and a free throw to put Maryland up 6. Young got to the rim off the bounce to cut it back to four and the Terps took a timeout with just under a minute to play, leading Ohio State 32-28 and that’s how the half would end with Maryland enjoying the four point lead. The Buckeyes were down by just four despite hitting just 36.% from the floor, including an abysmal 3 of 16 from beyond the arc. The Terrapins hit 43.3% of their shot attempts and just 3 of 10 from long range. Kyle Young led the Buckeyes with 8 first half points, while E.J. Liddell added 7 and Cedric Russell had 6. Maryland was led by a game high 13 from Eric Ayala, while Fatts Russell chipped in 8 and Donta Scott added 7.
Maryland scored the first four of the second half to build their biggest lead at 8, but the Buckeyes got on the board when Wheeler got to the rim off the bounce and scored off the glass. The Buckeyes cut it to three when Wheeler drilled a three from the top. A Terp bucket increased the lead, but Wheeler banged down another triple to cut the lead to two. Maryland answered, getting the ball inside and scoring while drawing a foul and at the under 16 media timeout, Maryland led Ohio State 40-36 and due to hit the line out of the timeout. The free throw dropped to increase the lead, but Zed Key split a pair of his own to trim it back to four. Russell nailed a triple from the top to cut it to one, but Maryland answered with a triple of their own to go back up four. Branham got to the rim to trim the deficit to two, but a Terp bucket and foul sent the game to the under 12 with Maryland maintaining a 46-42 lead and a free throw upcoming. The free throw dropped putting Maryland up 5, but Meechie Johnson sped to the rim for a lay-in to cut back into the lead. A pair of Maryland free throws increased the deficit to five, but a short Liddell jumper cut it back to three. A long Maryland three put the Terps up six, but a strong move to the bucket by Gene Brown resulted in a hoop to cut it back to four. The Terps split a pair of free throws, but two Branham freebies trimmed the lead to three. The Terps went back up five and at the under 8 media timeout and 7:05 on the clock, Maryland led 55-50. Two free throws out of the timeout put the Terrapins up 7, but Russell drilled a triple from right wing to cut the deficit to four. Maryland split a pair of free throws to bump the lead to five but an offensive rebound and triple increased the lead to eight as Ohio State was looking gassed. Another Terp triple gave Maryland their largest lead and the Buckeyes took a timeout with Maryland leading 64-53 with 4:09 to go. After a foul and media timeout, Liddell knocked down two free throws to cut into the lead. Maryland split a pair of free throws to go up 10 and after an offensive foul, Maryland converted an old fashioned three point play to all but secure this one. After a Buckeye miss, the Terps split a pair of free throws to go up 14, but two Branham free throws cut it back to 12. Maryland answered with an incredible three and it just wasn’t Ohio State’s day as Maryland took a timeout firmly in control with 2:31 left. A Maryland triple put the Terps up 18 and Branaham drilled one to answer but that would finish the scoring to complete the loss.
This just wasn’t Ohio State’s day. Maryland did everything right and Ohio State just couldn’t match the Terrapins’ intensity. Fatigue was clearly a major factor in this game and Ohio State will just have to move on and forget about it. Coming off such an emotional win a few days ago, this one will go down as the worst loss of the season and it cost them a shot at a Big Ten title, but the double bye in Indianapolis is still in play and the Buckeyes will have to bounce back quickly as next week will be taxing, playing three basketball games, but all at home. They still have plenty to play for and getting some momentum heading to the postseason will be on the menu. The Buckeyes have seen highs and lows this season and this was certainly rock bottom, but give Maryland credit as the Terps probably played their best game of the season and it was obviously Ohio State’s worst. No time to hang their heads as another quick turnaround on Tuesday night and the Buckeyes better come out ready to go, taking on a Nebraska team with nothing to lose.
The Buckeyes return home for the final three regular season games, beginning with a Tuesday night matchup with Nebraska tipping at 7 PM and airing on BTN.