COLUMBUS, OH - The Buckeyes have lost 11 games this season, some of them because they weren't focused or didn't hustle.
The loss to the Terrapins in College Park was not one of those.
The Buckeyes (15-11, 5-8) showed heart and fight but just didn't have the horses to overcome a Maryland team that made clutch plays and clutch shots when they needed them to claim an 86-77 win over OSU.
Maryland (21-4, 9-3) was coming off two-straight losses and played like a team desperate to get back on the winning track. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, were on a two-game winning streak that rekindled their slim NCAA hopes, but were without the services of regular starting point guard JaQuan Lyle who missed the game due to a serious illness in his family.
The Terps came out like a house on fire and opened up a 9-0 lead while holding OSU scoreless until the first media timeout. The Buckeyes had their chances during the scoring drought but missed numerous close shots. They finally got on the board when Marc Loving made a pair of free throws coming out of the media time out to make it 9-2.
The Buckeyes fought back and got it to two points at 13-11 but never tied the game. The Terps then took charge on the strength of some great three point shooting and a huge contribution from their bench. Maryland made seven three pointers in the first half and got 20 points of bench production to stay in control.
Maryland extended their lead to as many as 16 points with 3:15 remaining in the first half and ended the half with a 14-point lead at 45-31.
It was the kind of half that in the past has led to some ugly second-half performances by the Buckeyes, but not this time. OSU trimmed the Maryland lead to 10 at the first media time out of the second half and continued to compete. They got it down to six points at 58-52 but Maryland found its three-point magic again and extended the lead back out to 12 at 66-54.
The Buckeyes could have folded, but didn't.
Despite foul problems for centers Trevor Thompson and Micah Potter OSU stayed with striking distance and made a move late in the game when Loving made three pointers on consecutive possessions to cut Maryland's lead to just five with 2:30 to play.
It looked like the Buckeyes might actually be able to pull off the upset but Maryland once again found their three-point magic. A contested deep three late in the shot clock made it 80-72 Maryland, but Kam Williams quickly answered with a three of his own to cut it five again at 80-75.
The pressure was on the Terrapins again, but they answered with another contested deep three late in the shot clock to put them back up by eight with about a minute to play.
"You've got to credit Maryland, we made them make some tough shots and they made them," said OSU Head Coach Thad Matta in his radio interview after the game.
The Buckeyes finished the game short not only Lyle but short three other players who fouled out during the game. They included Thompson and Potter as well as Tate who fouled out late in the game. OSU had a chance to make a late run at the Terps as the game wound down but streak of 8-consecutive possessions on which they were whistled for fouls, some of them questionable calls at best, doomed them.
"I think our guys did a great job being a man down of competing and fighting. I think that we fought," said Matta.
They did, but on this night so did the Terrapins, and the Buckeyes came up short.
The Buckeyes got a 24 point scoring effort from Loving and had three other players in double figures including Tate with 20, Thompson with 11 and C.J. Jackson, who started for Lyle, with 13. Thompson registered a double-double by adding 10 rebounds to his scoring effort.
Maryland made 12 of 29 three point attempts (41.4 percent). The Buckeyes actually had a better shooting percentage from three (8 of 17 for 47.1 percent) and also did well at the free throw line going 15 for 18 for 83 percent. The difference was that Maryland shot 28 free throws and made 20 of them.