Ohio State cut a 10-point second-half deficit to one on four different occasions but could not make the pivotal play down the stretch to get over the hump, and lost to Maryland, 77-71, on Tuesday night at Value City Arena.
C.J. Jackson brought Ohio State (13-10, 3-7 Big Ten) within one for the final time via two free throws at the 2:35 mark to make it a 70-69 game in favor of Maryland. Melo Trimble answered with a three to give the Terrapins (20-2, 8-1) a four-point lead.
"Melo was Melo," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said after the game. "I took him out at the five-minute mark, he was forcing some things. I put him back in at (the three-minute mark) and just said, 'Take over.' He got a good rest there, and I just felt like he was ready to do it. The three was huge because that kind of opened things up."
Marc Loving then hit a jumper for the Buckeyes with 1:46 left in the game to make it a 73-71 affair. Trimble scored the game's last four points to seal the road win for Maryland.
"You got to give credit to (Maryland)," Loving said of his team being unable to take the lead in the second half. "They made plays when they needed to. They make you have to respect the long close outs and put you in tough positions and they knocked down shots."
Justin Jackson had a game-high 22 points for Maryland on 8-of-12 shooting. Jae’Sean Tate led the Buckeyes with 20 points while making 7 of 10 shots from the floor.
The Terrapins raced out to an early 12-6 lead, but Ohio State answered with a 12-3 run to go on top, 18-15, with 11:47 left in the first half. Tate had a team-high six points during the stretch, which included going 4 of 4 from the foul line.
From there, neither team led by more than four points until the final minute of the half. Trailing 36-35 at the 2:06 mark, Maryland scored the final seven points of the opening stanza to go in front, 42-36, at the break. Jared Nickens started the spurt with a three, Anthony Cowan added a layup and Ivan Bender knocked down a pair of foul shots.
Following the intermission, Maryland expanded its lead to 10 on five different occasions in the first seven minutes of the second half. Trimble tossed in a layup at the 13:03 mark to put the Terrapins up by 10 for the fifth time, as the visitors led, 58-48.
The Buckeyes did not go away, though, as they went on to cut the deficit to a single point on four different instances before ultimately losing the contest.
"I just think that at those certain times we just got to believe we got another gear, even more sense of urgency," Tate said of what the team needs to do when it has the opportunity to take the lead. "You got to want it a little more than the other team. I felt like at times we didn't do that. If we get it within one, we have to get the stop and all five guys got to be connected out there. We just didn't do that enough tonight."
While much of the focus was on the final minutes of the game, OSU coach Thad Matta noted that the first 20 minutes are just as important.
"We've got to understand those plays with 12 minutes to go in the first half make a difference when we don't run back in transition or we miss a layup and they get a dunk at the other end," Matta said. "As I told our guys, we played better but we didn't play good enough. We got to continue to climb the stairs to success."
Ohio State now hits the road to take on Michigan (14-8, 4-5) on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.
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