COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Despite a second loss Ohio State this season, Maryland coach Brenda Frese did not sound overly concerned about the direction of her team with a third of the Big Ten season left to go.
“It’s February,” said Frese, whose team trailed by seven at halftime and as many as 18 in the third quarter. “We’ve just got to be able to learn from this. I’m proud of the fight we showed in the second half.”
Brionna Jones scored 28 points, but it wasn’t enough for No. 5 Maryland in a 94-86 loss to seventh-ranked Ohio State on Monday night.
Tierney Pfirman added 16 points while Shatori Walker-Kimbrough scored 14 for the Terrapins.
Kelsey Mitchell scored 33 points for Ohio State and Ameryst Alston added as the Buckeyes (19-4, 11-1) swept the season series and took sole possession of first place in the Big Ten from the defending champion Terrapins (21-3, 10-2).
“Obviously Ohio State was terrific tonight,” Frese said. “They came out ready to play from the tip and they played a really inspired 40 minutes.
“Mitchell, Alston we obviously had no answer for. Terrific guards that really put their team on their back.”
Maryland did not lose a game to a Big Ten opponent last season, when the Terrapins won the conference regular season and tournament titles in their first year as members.
Including the postseason, the Terrapins are 31-2 against conference foes since the start of last season with two of those wins and both losses against Ohio State.
“You’ve gotta learn and get better from it,” Frese said. “For us they’ve kind of obviously taken over in terms of where we want to be so you’ve got to continue - I think of us it’s not about physically but mentally being able to get ourselves more prepared.”
Alexa Hart added 17 and Shayla Cooper had 11 for Ohio State. The two forwards found more room to operate inside after the Buckeyes went 8 for 12 from 3-point range in the first half.
Ohio State opened up a 24-14 lead in the first eight minutes thanks mostly to hot shooting from Alston, who had 11 points in the first quarter and all three of her 3-pointers.
The Buckeyes took a 47-40 lead into the locker room at halftime and led 75-61 going into the fourth quarter.
“I was really proud of our effort to start,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “We had great focus and energy right from the tip and you’ve got to have that against a great team like Maryland.”
He called it “probably our best game to date” because of the quality of the opponent.
“I’ve got great respect for their talent and their coaching,” McGuff said.
Maryland: The Terrapins started three players from Ohio: Malina Howard of Twinsburg, Confroy of Solon and Chloe Pavlech of Cincinnati Sycamore.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes ran their winning streak to seven games.
Maryland dominated the glass, finishing with a 47-31 rebounding edge and an 18-5 advantage in points in the paint.
DIALING LONG DISTANCE
Mitchell and Alston made four 3-pointers apiece as the Buckeyes went 12 for 23 from behind the arc.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
“We put big emphasis on keeping a high pace,” Mitchell said. “I think coach McGuff told us that’s one of our advantages, to push the ball up the floor. As long as we can keep a good pace we can try to get them tired, especially since they’ve got great bigs inside.”
Maryland plays host to Purdue on Thursday night.
Ohio State plays at Iowa on Thursday night.
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