Road woes continue as Maryland basketball stumbles at Ohio State, 73-62

With two regular season conference games remaining and an opportunity to strengthen its resume and pick up an important win at Ohio State, Maryland basketball’s road woes continued, as the Terps fell to the Buckeyes, 73-62, on Wednesday night.

Maryland entered Wednesday’s game knotted with three other Big Ten teams – Indiana, Northwestern and Michigan – with an 11-7 conference record. The Terps could have secured themselves a double-bye in the upcoming Big Ten tournament with road wins over Ohio State and on Sunday at Penn State.

With the loss, Maryland is now 1-8 in conference games away from home, equaling both Ohio State and Minnesota as Big Ten teams with only one road win in conference play. With a game of such magnitude and with so many seeding implications, Wednesday’s loss could have ramifications that could impact the Terps’ Big Ten and NCAA Tournament placement.

After wrapping up the home portion of the Big Ten schedule with a flawless 10-0 record, the Terps have not found any sort of success away from the Xfinity Center. Entering Wednesday’s game, Maryland had only defeated Minnesota, the Big Ten’s last-place team, and Louisville (last in the ACC) in road games this season.

The Terps found themselves facing yet another early road deficit, as Ohio State jumped out to a 14-4 lead in the game’s opening minutes. As has been the case all season, Maryland’s hot shooting that has been displayed at the Xfinity Center has yet to travel with the team.

“We’ve really struggled with the Sunday-Wednesday turnarounds,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “We haven’t brought the same energy that we bring on Sunday that we’ve brought on Wednesday’s. … [We] just did some things early on in the game again that just make you scratch your head. This one is disappointing.”

Three-point shooting has been the root of Maryland’s road woes, as the Terps entered Wednesday’s matchup shooting under 29% from beyond the arc in Big Ten road games. In their 10 home games, the Terps shot just under a 40% clip from three.

Despite this, Maryland utilized some timely three-point shooting in the first half which allowed it to hang around after going down by as many as 10 points multiple times.

Late triples from Don Carey and Donta Scott helped trim Maryland’s halftime deficit to six, as Ohio State led 35-29 at the break.

Maryland forward Julian Reese was active on the interior yet again for the Terps, going to-to-toe with Buckeyes freshman Felix Okpara. The sophomore Reese – who Willard has repeatedly said he “would take over anybody in the Big Ten” – secured his fourth consecutive double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

While Okpara (12 points and 12 rebounds) couldn’t fully match the offensive output of Reese, the freshman made a significant impact in the paint, as he altered countless Maryland drive attempts and picked up three blocks in the process.

The Buckeyes began to pull away in the second half – looking at times looked like the team that began the season 10-4 and held a top-25 ranking – as a layup from Eugene Brown III pushed their lead to 48-35 with just under 15 minutes to go.

“When we got them to take some bad shots in the second half, we don’t box out, which we’ve been doing a really good job of, [which is] rebounding over the last seven or eight games,” Willard said. “We just could never really get into that flow. Every time we got a stop, we gave up an offensive rebound.”

Maryland guard Ian Martinez rattled off eight consecutive points to help trim the lead back to single digits, but had limited help on the offensive end from his teammates. The junior from Costa Rica continued his hot shooting from Sunday’s win over Northwestern, where he went 3-3 from three-point range as the Terps made a season-high 14 threes.

Martinez and Reese scored the first 13 points for Maryland in the second half. Besides Reese, the only other Terp in double-figures was Carey, who scored 11 of his 14 points after the game’s outcome was all but a formality.

The free-throw line was where the Buckeyes took advantage, as Ohio State finished a perfect 20-20 from the line, 17 of which coming in the second half. Justice Sueing (16 points) went 8-8 from the line to help lead the Buckeyes offensively.

“I don’t know sometimes what guys have to do to deserve a foul on the road,” Willard said of the free-throw discrepancy. “For Jahmir Young to not shoot a free throw, again that’s something that I think has been a big part of our road problems.”

Six Buckeyes scored in double-figures, a balanced attack for a team that has struggled mightily in Big Ten play. Prior to its win against Illinois on Sunday, Ohio State had lost nine straight games.

Maryland will travel to Penn State on Sunday for its final – and possibly its biggest – game of the regular season. A win could give the Terps a double-bye and allow them to rest until Friday, but a loss could cause them to drop far down the standings and dim their chances at a Big Ten tournament title.

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