Jan. 02, 2016
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) No longer is Big Ten women’s basketball simply about Maryland and everyone else.
Ohio State is now very much a part of the conversation.
Kelsey Mitchell scored 28 points, and the ninth-ranked Buckeyes stunned No. 6 Maryland 80-71 Saturday, dealing the Terrapins their first loss in Big Ten play since joining the conference last season.
Alexa Hart contributed 20 points on 10-for-12 shooting to help Ohio State (10-3, 2-0) win its sixth straight and get even for a defeat in last year’s Big Ten title game.
Maryland remains the team to beat in the conference, but the Buckeyes proved they’ve got what it takes to make it happen.
”As I told my players, if you legitimately want to compete for a Big Ten championship the road goes through Maryland, with all the success that they’ve had,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said.
”We’re excited, but we can’t get too high on this one. Maryland is historically a team that always gets better throughout the year, and that’s why they’ve been in Final Fours.”
The Terrapins (12-2, 1-1) went 18-0 in their Big Ten debut last season before capturing the conference tournament with a 77-74 win over Ohio State.
”For us, it was a great accomplishment. I don’t think we ever set out to do it,” coach Brenda Frese said.
”If anyone thought we were going to undefeated for the next four years … the game will keep you humble. Ohio State came here with a great chip on their shoulder, and we can’t stay in the past.”
The Terrapins won 31 in a row against Big Ten foes before coming up short in this one.
”We don’t really focus on all that stuff,” said guard Brene Moseley, who led Maryland with 20 points.
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough scored 16 and Brionna Jones had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Maryland finished with a mere 38-35 advantage on the boards despite coming in with a nation’s best plus-20.5 rebounding margin. The Terps also committed 20 turnovers and were outscored 15-7 at the free throw line.
After facing top-ranked Connecticut on Monday and Illinois on Wednesday, the Terrapins had a built-in explanation for this lackluster performance.
”You saw the effects and the impact of three games in six days,” Frese said. ”It’s not an excuse (but) I thought there were a lot of uncharacteristic plays by us with fatigue today.”
Down by eight points in the first half, the Buckeyes outscored the Terrapins 24-17 in the third quarter, going ahead for good on a layup by Mitchell with 4:16 left in the period.
The Buckeyes made it 70-63 when Ameryst Alston hit a 3-pointer with 7:11 remaining. Alston came in averaging 19.6 points, but finished with 12 on 4-for-17 shooting.
Maryland closed to 72-69 with 3:13 to go, but made only one basket the rest of the way.
Ohio State trailed 42-37, before Cait Craft made two free throws to launch a 9-0 run that gave the Buckeyes their first lead. Maryland fueled the surge with four turnovers over a two-minute span.
After the Terrapins went back in front, Mitchell capped a 7-0 spree with a three-point play to make it 61-55 late in the third quarter.
Moseley had 13 points and five assists in the first half, and Maryland led by eight points on several occasions before settling for a 40-37 advantage at the break.
Ohio State started 0 for 8 with four turnovers over the first five minutes and trailed 7-3 before Hart ended the drought with a sweeping hook in the lane.
Ohio State: Shayla Cooper had 10 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 8:12 remaining. … The Buckeyes have made a 3-pointer in 90 straight games since Feb. 10, 2013. … McGuff earned his first win against Maryland. He was 0-5, including his time at Xavier.
Maryland: The Terps’ 28-game home winning streak ended. … Maryland celebrated the 10th anniversary of its 2006 national championship with a video montage, a T-shirt giveaway. … Jones has 902 points. She came in with a 71 percent shooting rate and went 5 for 7.
Ohio State: Hosts Indiana on Thursday.
Maryland: Home against Nebraska on Thursday.