Costly errors hurt Maryland late in 79-75 double overtime loss at Ohio State

Maryland basketball had many opportunities to close out a much-needed victory at Ohio State on Saturday but failed to capitalize, resulting in a 79-75 double overtime loss. The Terps missed a combined five free throws in overtime and now fall to 13-11 on the season and 5-8 in Big Ten play.

Jahmir Young (26 points, seven rebounds) and Donta Scott (19 points, seven rebounds) led the way offensively for Maryland, who now fall to 1-7 in games decided by four points or less.

Julian Reese (13 points, 13 rebounds) missed four straight free throws in overtime after starting the game 5-of-7.

“We had our chances,” Maryland head coach Kevin Willard said. “Donta misses two free throws, Ju misses four free throws, [Young] had a couple of shots at the end. Give [Ohio State] credit, they made some tough shots at the end. We’ve got to come up with a way to get stops, … sometimes we just let a little bit of our offense slippage go back to the other end.”

“We’re a free throw here or a shot away here, and it seems like it’s been the whole year,” he added.

Maryland led by as many as 10 in the first half, as Willard implemented a new starting lineup in an attempt to find a spark.

Mady Traore and Jamie Kaiser Jr. both earned starts on Saturday, replacing usual starters DeShawn Harris-Smith and Jordan Geronimo. Kaiser Jr. was scoreless in his 10 minutes of play after dealing with early foul trouble.

Traore, who had only logged 49 total minutes all season before Saturday’s game, finished with eight points and five rebounds in his 20 minutes of action. His activity level around the rim was a positive development early on, as he scored four points on two put-back layups to help the Terps build their lead.

Scott, who scored 12 of his 19 points in the first half, started out hot for Maryland. He shot 4-of-5 from the field in the opening 20 minutes as the Terps took a 30-20 lead. Maryland outscored Ohio State 18-12 in the paint in the first half.

Leading 32-24 with just under six minutes remaining in the first half, Maryland’s new-found offense began to sputter. Ohio State used a 9-0 run to take a 33-32 halftime lead, as Maryland missed its final seven shots from the field and failed to score a point in the final 5:36.

Bruce Thornton led the way for Ohio State with 24 points and seven rebounds. He scored 11 in the first half to help the Buckeyes mount their comeback, and his layup with five seconds left gave them their first lead of the game.

“I thought we really only had two breakdowns on those pick-and-rolls,” Willard said. “[Thornton] made some tough shots. We did what we wanted to do on him. We really wanted to make it tough on him, which we did. I know they ended up scoring 79 points, but it’s deceptive.”

Maryland continued to play sound defense during stretches on Saturday. Ohio State’s second-leading scorer Jamison Battle, who entered play averaging 14.4 points per game, was held scoreless until the 8:19 mark of the second half. He finished with eight points on 4-of-11 shooting and failed to make a three-pointer in three attempts.

A three by Young gave the Terps a 58-53 lead with just over five minutes to go in the second half, but ensuing buckets from Battle and Felix Okpara trimmed the lead to three. Thornton then connected on a three to tie the game at 61 with just over a minute remaining.

On Maryland’s next possession, a great play was ran for Scott who attacked the basket and was fouled. He missed both free throws on the trip to the line, either of which would have given Maryland the lead. Young missed a step-back jumper with the clock winding down and the game went to overtime.

The teams traded baskets in the first overtime, before Reese was fouled with 38 seconds to go and had a chance to give the Terps the lead at the line. He missed both free throws.

“Ju had a tough night inside,” Willard said. “Some of the stuff that he usually makes and finishes, he just missed a couple easy ones and on the road, sometimes that happens.”

Reese avenged his misses with a quick layup to give Maryland an early advantage in double overtime, but a turnover by Scott and more missed free throws were too much to overcome. Ohio State scored the final six points of the game, capped off by a windmill dunk by Roddy Gayle Jr. to put Maryland out of its misery. The Buckeyes led the game for only five of the 50 total minutes played.

“It really comes down to if we make our free throws. They made theirs, they made some big free throws, and then Thornton’s three obviously was huge,” Willard said.

Maryland did not make a substitution for the final 15 minutes of play. Traore, who led the Terps with a +8, did not see the court for the final 21 minutes.

“We’ve been practicing hard, we’ve been playing hard, we’re in every game,” Willard said. “It’s not like they’re not playing hard, unfortunately offensively we’ve struggled a little bit and it’s just hard to put so much pressure on your defense constantly.”

Maryland will return home for two games against Iowa and Illinois and will attempt to resurrect its season as we near the halfway point of February, as the Terps sit in the bottom four of the conference. Wednesday’s game will tip at 8:30 on BTN.

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February 25, 2024