By Max Marcilla
Games away from College Park have not been friendly for the Maryland Terrapins, and the road struggles reached a pinnacle in a 91-69 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes.
It was Maryland’s fourth loss in its last six road games, including a 30-point loss to Michigan State and Thursday’s calamity in Columbus.
The Terps actually came out of the locker room hot. Kevin Huerter hit a pair of three-pointers and Michal Cekovsky made his first five shots.
But similar to that game against the Spartans, Maryland’s opposition pieced together a dominant, demoralizing run, and Maryland was unable to claw its way back. This time, a 22-4 Buckeye spurt during a period of over six minutes.
A 22-18 Terp lead vanished and gave way to a 44-32 halftime lead for the hosting Buckeyes. That lead was increased to as many as 28 in the second half.
The loss magnified a troubling trend for the injury-depleted Maryland team: it lacks depth. The Terps only had eight healthy scholarship players for the midweek matchup. They will only be getting one (Dion Wiley, who was held out with a concussion) back anytime soon.
With so few players available — especially in the front court with the injuries to Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender — foul trouble or struggles by nearly anyone could be detrimental to Mark Turgeon’s squad.
The short bench unit didn’t give any jolt to the team that desperately needed a spark from someone. Jared Nickens was held scoreless until the game’s final minutes and Sean Obi played just nine minutes. Redshirt sophomore Joshua Tomaic was the only effective reserve.
Meanwhile, Ohio State got a career-high 11 points from Andrew Dakich, a graduate transfer from Michigan that scored 20 points in his four-year career in Ann Arbor.
All 11 of Dakich’s points came during Ohio State’s explosive first half run, which was also aided by a pair of long balls by Keita Bates-Diop, the Buckeyes’ leading scorer that finished with 26.
Maryland’s Big Ten schedule is barely over a quarter finished (this includes a pair of December conference matchups), and the team is left searching for answers that many teams solve early in the season. That’s what injuries can do.
Without Jackson and Bender and, for the time being, Wiley, Maryland needs a spark. A career-best performance. A gritty road win. Simply, anything it can rally around as the dog days of conference play carry on.