No. 10 Ohio State blown out by No. 8 Maryland 90-54 in Jacy Sheldon's return from injury
With a little more than seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, Cotie McMahon stretched out to save the ball from going out of bounds. The freshman forward's athleticism enabled her to secure the ball in mid-air and pass it back toward the court before she hit the ground.
But instead of being snagged by one of McMahon's teammates on the No. 10 Ohio State women's basketball team, the pass was picked off by Maryland guard Shyanne Sellers, who fed forward Brinae Alexander for a 3-pointer in transition to give the Terrapins a 30-point lead.
The sequence summed things up for the Buckeyes, who lost 90-54 to No. 8 Maryland for their fourth loss in the last five games after starting the season 19-0. The Terrapins (19-5, 10-3) took advantage of Ohio State's 24 turnovers, scoring 24 points off of them, and generally did whatever they wanted from start to finish. Fifty-four points is Ohio State's lowest offensive output of the season, and 90 is the most the Buckeyes (20-4, 9-4) have allowed.
"They played a great game and we were really bad," coach Kevin McGuff said. "That’s to their credit. They coached better, they played better, just everything was better about them today."
A laundry list of problems doomed Ohio State. Senior forward Rebeka Mikulasikova, who averages 13.4 points, scored just two and played only 18 minutes after getting into early foul trouble. McMahon, who averages 13.5 points a game, contributed just six on Sunday. Sophomore guard Taylor Thierry led OSU with with 21 points and 7 rebounds, but like McMahon, drew too many whistles and fouled out in the fourth quarter.
Thierry and McMahon are two of Ohio State's best defenders, and McGuff wanted to match them up with Maryland's top scorer Diamond Miller, but the fouls largely prevented him from doing so. Miller scored a game-high 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting while going 6-of-8 from the free-throw line. In the third quarter alone, she scored 16 points while Ohio State scored 14 as a team.
"We were trying to get those guys matching up with Diamond, but we couldn’t keep them in the game enough," McGuff said. "She’s so good, if you don’t have the right matchup on her, she’s going to make you pay about every possession."
Thierry added: "She’s very athletic and she’s very physical. I think that kind of got into our heads a little bit."
There were moments early in the game when the Buckeyes' trademark full-court press was effective, but it didn't take Maryland long to figure out how to break it. The Terrapins turned the ball over 15 times, and few of those came as a result of backcourt pressure.
The Buckeyes' anemic offensive effort didn't help, either. Ohio State needs to make shots to institute the press, and it made just 21 of its 62 attempts Sunday.
"I thought we were getting good enough shots," McGuff said, "but we weren’t making them. Once we started missing, I thought we started forcing and not moving the ball, and it led to turnovers and bad shots."
Senior point guard Jacy Sheldon returned from her 16-game absence with a foot injury — her last game was Nov. 30. Her return was the lone bright spot for Ohio State in the loss, but her performance showed that she's not 100% yet. In 25 minutes, Sheldon scored five points on 2-of-8 shooting to go with five rebounds, three assists, one steal and one turnover.
"I obviously missed playing with everybody," Sheldon said. "It was fun, obviously, when you don’t play for that long and you get to get out there. But we could’ve played a lot better tonight.."