Last night in College Park the Maryland Terrapins hosted the Ohio State Buckeyes, both teams were 16-3 and 5-1 in the Big Ten. Over the past few seasons, despite Maryland’s success, Ohio State has had their way with the Terps. That wasn’t the case last night as the home team bottled up Kelsey Mitchell and ran past Ohio State 99-69. It was the best Maryland has looked since losing Blair Watson, they played good defense and the found their rhythm on the offensive end. Eleanna Christinaki had 26 points, 21 of which were scored in the first half. Kaila Charles had a game high 32 points on 12-of-16 shooting, 22 of those came in the second half. Mitchell led the Buckeyes with 15 points and 7 assists. The Terps did a great job of switching defenses to keep the talented guard from going off, holding Ohio State to 39% shooting for the game.
Strong defense allowed Maryland to jump out to an 8-2 start, Eleanna scored all eight of those points in that span. One thing that Mitchell said after the game was that her team didn’t “know the personnel”. That was painfully apparent early on as the Buckeyes lost track of Christinaki several times, she made them pay for it. Maryland shot 61% from the floor in the opening period while holding Ohio State to 38%.
At one point in the second quarter, Ohio State had the same amount of points as Maryland’s Christinaki. The Buckeyes did make up some ground courtesy of Linnae Harper who scored seven points. They shot a bit better as a team, but their turnovers and misses allowed the Terps to get out in transition. One of the players that was overlooked in this one was Maryland’s Channise Lewis. The freshman played a masterful floor game, at the half she had seven assists and one turnover. This was the first time this year she looked that comfortable, she was running the show. Kristen Confroy did a ton of the little things against Ohio State, but in the second period she knocked down two big triples. Both of which were timely for Maryland.
The switching of defenses by Maryland really kept the Buckeyes from getting comfortable. There were a few times when Ohio State players caught the ball at the foul line and didn’t realize they were open, felt like they were trying to figure out if it was a zone or man defense.
No one expected the Buckeyes to roll over, despite being down 15 at the start of the second half. Sierra Calhoun scored the first five points of the half as Ohio State tried to seize the momentum back from the home team. Those few first possessions, Maryland was playing man-to-man defense. They switched to a half court trap and threw in some zone over the next few minutes. Charles typically starts games slow and finishes them strong, she had a quiet 10 points in the first half, but really stared to impose her will in the third period.
The Buckeyes cut the lead to 12 and even 10 at points during the quarter, but Kaila’s aggressiveness kept things in Maryland’s favor. She scored 11 points in period, every single point was needed as Ohio State nearly played Maryland to a tie. A bad offensive possession would result in a made three pointer by Charles, giving Maryland a 71-53 lead.
The Terps kept the pressure on in the fourth quarter, Brianna Fraser made an impact on the offensive end. She scored seven points, all of which in the paint by being aggressive. Kaila added another 11 as well, but it was the Maryland defense that remained in tact. Holding Ohio State to just 35% from the floor, Sarah Myers hit a three pointer at the end of a shot clock which nearly caused the Xfinity Center roof to blow off.
One note on Kelsey Mitchell, despite the outcome of the game she never stopped competing. Not once was her body language bad, definitely a leader. For Maryland, they may have found their formula going forward. Eleanna is a different type of player than Watson offensively, but the Terps need her production. Her getting going really opened up the floor for Kaila and others. They’re going to need Fraser to play with that type of aggression as well. Definitely a step in the right direction for the Terps, they head out on the road next to play Northwestern. Ohio State continues their road trip with a matchup against Iowa.