Dominant fourth quarter from Ohio State too much for Maryland women’s basketball

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

With just under three minutes remaining in the game, Ohio State’s Cotie McMahon snatched a defensive rebound. In a flash, the sophomore forward pushed the pace upcourt before firing a perfectly placed pass ahead to Jacy Sheldon, who proceeded to bank in an uncontested layup.

The transition basket served as an exclamation point to a hard fought, back-and-forth game – capitalizing in a late Buckeyes’ run that proved too much for the Terps to overcome, as Maryland fell 84-76 to No. 18 Ohio State.

The opening minutes of play served as a sloppy, fast-paced feel out period for both teams – with a combined 1/7 start on shots from the field and nine total first-quarter turnovers.

The Terps finally got on the board with just under eight minutes remaining in the first quarter. In a flash, Bri McDaniel accelerated down the right lane, absorbing contact before spinning around and scooping in an acrobatic layup. Then, just minutes later, a high arcing entry pass from Faith Masonius to a sealed-off Jakia Brown-Turner resulted in yet another layup – providing the Terps with much-needed momentum and an early lead that extended to as much as five throughout the period.

But the Buckeyes went on a 7-3 run of their own – spurred by an array of crafty buckets from Celeste Taylor and McMahon – to close out the first period, narrowing Maryland’s lead to just one after 10 minutes of play.

The close, back-and-forth play continued into the second quarter, as both the Terps and Buckeyes excelled on the defensive end – triggering even more pressure and fast-break opportunities, with a combined six steals and 10 turnovers in the period alone.

The Terps finally created some separation midway through the quarter – playing to their strengths with a lightning fast tempo and a variety of transition passes, leaving Ohio State defenders backpedaling and guessing who to commit to on the break. 

Crucial buckets from Masonius and Lavender Briggs served as the seventh lead change of the game and provided the Terps with yet another two-score lead. But once more, the Buckeyes answered right back – fueled by a quartet of layups to nearly even things up before the break.

“[Overall], proud of our energy and effort. I thought we battled in the first half,” head coach Brenda Frese emphasized. “We were up at half without [Shyanne Sellers] taking a shot and playing only eight minutes. So I thought we were in a really good place.”

After not scoring a single point – or even attempting a single shot – in the entire first half, Shyanne Sellers went on attack to begin the third quarter. Just over a minute into the second half, the Terps’ star junior barrelled down the lane, creating contact and drawing a shooting foul against Ohio State. 

Two made free throws later, Sellers found the ball in her hands yet again. But this time, she found the hot hand – showing off impressive vision on a pass to Briggs, who proceeded to convert on another triple.

Swarming Maryland defense led to a variety of offensive opportunities on the other end, but an inopportune scoring drought ensued to end the third quarter, with the Terps struggling to put the ball in the basket – just three total points (all from free throws) in the final three minutes of the period.

The Buckeyes entered the fourth quarter with a one point lead and some momentum to go along with it – which built throughout the final 10 minutes. Ohio State’s McMahon took over midway through the period, with consecutive driving layups to bring her game total to 14 points and extend the Buckeyes’ lead to seven points with mere minutes remaining.

“[Our] conditioning has got to be greater,” stressed Frese. “Teams are separating [against us] in the second half, [and] we don’t have the depth anymore.”

On the other end, more poor shooting from the Terps made it difficult for the home team to stay in it. Late buckets and free throws from Brinae Alexander (8 pts.), McDaniel (16 pts.), Briggs (16 pts.), and Sellers (12 pts, 9 reb, 7 ast) narrowed the lead back down to four points, but that was the closest Maryland would get – as constant Buckeye rebounds extended the road team’s possessions and left the Terps with limited time to mount a comeback.

“It’s very draining, just [having to] scramble [so much],” said McDaniel on the multiple possession opportunities for Ohio State. “We were doing good on defense, and then they get a rebound and we’ve got to scramble again…It was very tiring, but we’ve got to be better on that.”

With the loss, Maryland snaps a 19 game home win streak (dating back to December of 2022) and falls to 11-6 on the season (3-3 record in conference play), while still maintaining a 14-9 all-time series lead over Ohio State.

“The production from Bri [McDaniel], Lavender [Briggs], and Jakia [Brown-Turner] was really good tonight,” Frese emphasized. “If you look at our three conference losses, we were right there in all of them…I thought there were some unlucky plays and bounces towards the end that really didn’t go our way, but [we] obviously [have to] move on and get ready for Saturday.”

The Terps now have some time to regroup before looking to get back on track this Saturday at 1:00 p.m., when they’ll return to XFINITY Center to take on Illinois (8-8) in a pivotal conference matchup.