- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 4, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Maryland Terrapins had talked about preventing LaQuinton Ross from getting open looks from the outside.

But they lost him, and then lost the game.

Ross scored 17 of his 20 points in the first half, hitting his first four 3-pointers, to lead No. 5 Ohio State to an early lead and a 76-60 victory over the Terps on Wednesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

“We were much more aware of him” in the second half, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “But we weren’t the first three possessions when he went boom, boom, boom. It’s amazing how, as a competitor, a guy who is known as a shooter hits a shot … but you don’t find him.”

It was that kind of a night for the Terrapins (5-3), who had a four-game winning streak end as the Buckeyes (7-0) built a lead early and never looked back.

“No excuses our way,” said Dez Wells, who led Maryland with 19 points. “They came out and played well. We had too many turnovers in the first half and that’s our Achilles heel right now. So going forward we have to cut those down and we’ll do a lot better.”

The Terps had 10 turnovers at the break — resulting in Ohio State’s 18-0 edge in points off miscues. By then, they were already behind 43-26 and were unable to dig themselves out of the hole they put themselves in.

Asked what the message was at halftime, Evan Smotrycz, who had 15 points for the Terps, said, “Play tougher. We were playing really soft. Too many turnovers.”

A prime example came in the final seconds of the first half. The Buckeyes (7-0), who also got 14 points from Sam Thompson, 12 from Lenzelle Smith Jr. and 10 points and a lot of defensive havoc from Aaron Craft, had already scored six points in a row.

On the Terps’ final possession Craft dived on the floor and stole the ball in a scrum, then passed it out while on the floor. Thompson got the ball, spun in the lane on a breakaway and then banked in a layup just as the buzzer sounded.

“We took the timeout,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “We said, ‘Hey, they’re going to take one shot, we can get a little risky here in terms of pushing up our pressure.’ For him to get down on the floor and flick it up like that it was just a tremendous play.”

It was Maryland’s last appearance in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge — at least as an Atlantic Coast Conference member. Next year the Terps will join the Buckeyes in the new 14-team Big Ten.

“We didn’t talk about it being our last one,” Turgeon said. “We just talked about Ohio State and obviously we didn’t do a good job playing against them. So give them credit.”

Wells swatted aside a question about the differences between the two conferences.

“Basketball is basketball,” he said. “I don’t care what conference you’re in. That doesn’t matter to me.”

The Buckeyes blitzed the Terrapins on defense — garnering 25 points off their 14 turnovers — and also shot 60 percent on 3-pointers in the opening half and 52 percent from the field for the game.

The lead never dropped below double digits over the last 24 minutes, and the Buckeyes eased up after going up by 25 points in the second half.

Charles Mitchell added 12 points and 11 rebounds for Maryland.

“We just wanted to play well,” Turgeon said. “We were playing a top-5 team on the road, undefeated and the winningest team in the Big Ten the last six or seven years that Thad’s been here. It was a great opportunity for us. I just don’t think we competed when we needed to compete. It’s easy to compete when you’re down 20 (but) you’ve got to compete when the game’s on the line and we didn’t do that.”

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