Maryland 85, Ohio State 65 | Buckeyes women fall flat in loss

Jacob Myers
Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff glumly watches his team in the second quarter Thursday night as visiting Maryland builds up a 22-point halftime lead. The Terrapins went on to win by 20. Story, Page D6. [Kyle Robertson/Dispatch]

The Ohio State women’s basketball team had a lot to discuss after being throttled Thursday night by 17th-ranked Maryland at Value City Arena.

Coach Kevin McGuff and the Buckeyes held a postgame meeting inside their locker room that lasted about 20 minutes -- more than twice as long as usual -- before the coach and players spoke to the media.

Forward Aaliyah Patty said the team talked about a lack of focus in back-to-back practices after two days off.

"I feel like in practice we had energy, just some things weren't done the right way,” Patty said. “We’ve got to take care of that.”

Ohio State (11-9, 4-5 Big Ten) only had itself to blame when the team finally walked off the court in silence after the 20-point loss to the Terrapins (17-4, 8-2).

A technical foul that took Kierstan Bell out of the game with the deficit at 12 early in the fourth quarter killed any momentum for a possible comeback, but the damage largely had been done in the first half, as the Terrapins went into their locker room with a 22-point lead.

In the vast majority of its games this season, Ohio State has seldom felt like a fish out of water after 20 minutes. The Buckeyes had trailed at halftime in just two of eight Big Ten games, and only once this season — at Stanford — had they trailed by at least 10 points at the break.

Second halves have been the struggle recently for the Buckeyes, who have lost three of their past five games after leading through two quarters. Thursday was a simple case in which the better team had the energy from the opening tip, and the Buckeyes were punished for it.

"We didn't have great focus or energy to start the game and put ourselves in a big hole, McGuff said, “and we can't do that against a Maryland team.”

Guard Braxtin Miller led the Buckeyes with 15 points. Maryland had five players in double digits, led by 19 points from conference preseason player of the year Kaila Charles.

Ohio State trailed by 15 in the first quarter — that’s more than they had trailed in a half, let alone a quarter — and the deficit swelled by halftime.

Maryland shot 56% from the floor, compared with Ohio State’s 34%.

It didn’t matter how many times McGuff pulled his scouting report out of his pocket, discussed with his assistants how to solve Maryland on either end of the court or implored his team to hold onto the ball.

The Buckeyes led by seven at halftime at Maryland less than a month ago, but they couldn’t solve Maryland’s press and coughed up 25 turnovers. Those issues returned Thursday, with the Buckeyes surrendering 20 turnovers, including nine in the first quarter.

The Buckeyes couldn’t find enough solutions to the problems they created in the first half against a contender for the conference championship.

"We’ve got to get better,” Miller said. “There's honestly no excuse for that.”