Free Throw Struggles Late bring Maryland men’s basketball to its demise in Columbus

Donta Scott caught the pass at the top of the key and immediately put the ball on the floor and went straight to the hoop. Scott got a foot into the paint and rose up, the ball in his right hand. Scott was about to release the layup when the arms of Ohio State senior Zed Key slapped the ball away.

Key’s block led to a run out by guard Roddy Gayle Jr. who slammed home a windmill dunk in transition, putting his signature on the Terps’ fate. The Ohio State Buckeyes (14-10, 4-9 Big Ten) defeated the Maryland Terrapins (13-11, 5-8 Big Ten), 79-75, in double overtime Saturday night. 

Ohio State was led to the victory by sophomore guard Bruce Thornton. Thornton scored 24 points on 50% shooting, knocking down two three-pointers. Thornton scored the go-ahead bucket in double overtime weaving through the Maryland defense and scooping a right handed layup through the net. 

“He made some tough shots,” said head coach Kevin Willard. “We did what we wanted to do on him – we really wanted to make it tough on him, which we did.”

Jahmir Young led Maryland in points with 26 and received key contributions from Scott (19 points) and Julian Reese (13 points). The rest of the Terps combined for 17 points on 7-16 shooting. 

Maryland had chances throughout the game to end on the winning side, but they just couldn’t get it done. 

Towards the end of regulation Thornton knocked down a catch and shoot three on the left wing, tying the game at 61. Scott had a chance to give Maryland the lead on the next possession but missed both of his free throw attempts. Neither team scored on their next possessions sending the game into overtime.

Reese was presented with a similar situation in overtime. After a layup by Thornton tied the game at 71, Reese was fouled and sent to the line. The junior forward missed both his attempts and neither team scored on their following possessions leading to a second overtime. Maryland was 20-30 from the free throw line in the game. 

“We had our chances,” said Willard. “Donta misses two free throws, Ju [Reese] misses four free throws, JY [Jahmir Young] had a couple of shots at the end. Give them [Ohio State] credit they made some tough shots at the end.”

The loss is Maryland’s third straight since beating Nebraska at home on January 27. The Terps offense has struggled in that time scoring under 60 points in their last two games. This game turned out to be no different. Maryland finished the second overtime period on a two minute scoring drought, missing two shots and turning the ball over once. Maryland shot under 40% from the floor in the game. 

Willard aimed to shake up the struggling offense, starting the game with a different starting five for the first time since the first couple weeks of the season. Sophomore Mady Traore and freshman Jamie Kaiser Jr. joined Young, Scott, and Reese as the first five players to take the court. 

The change seemed to work as the Terps scored 32 points in the first half to go along with 40% shooting from the field. The first half success didn’t last as the team shot under 35% in the second half. 

“It’s not like they’re not playing hard, it’s just unfortunately offensively we’ve struggled a little bit,” said Willard. “It’s just hard to put so much pressure on your defense constantly, eventually, you’re gonna have a breakdown.”

The Terps will have a short period off before their next opponent comes to College Park. The Terps will play again Wednesday against Iowa whom they beat earlier this year, 69-67.