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COLLEGE PARK – Point guard Taylor Mikesell leaped under the basket and pulled down the game-sealing defensive rebound as the final seconds ticked off the clock at the Xfinity Center of University of Maryland – College Park on Saturday.
Mikesell had just landed two back-to-back three pointers in the final minutes of the Maryland women’s basketball team’s matchup against the 4-8 Ohio State Buckeyes. Those two buckets stole the lead from the Buckeyes and preceded a scoreless final two minutes for Ohio State in a seesaw game that culminated in a 75-69 Maryland victory.
The Terps (13-1) were coming off their first loss of the season after winning 12 straight games. That sole loss came in a close bout against Rutgers on Dec. 31.
“I would definitely say that we’re still learning, for sure. Every day is a process,” said Mikesell. “I think we got exposed in the Rutgers game with rebounding and all-around effort and just going for loose balls and stuff. I think we locked in the past three days; every day we’re trying to get better.”
That extra effort paid off against Ohio State. Junior guard Kaila Charles drove hard through the paint and proved clutch at the free-throw line as she made 10 out of 11 free throws. Charles led all scorers with 24 points and finished with six rebounds and two assists.
Junior Sarah Meyers hit a trey at the buzzer at the end of the first quarter to put the Terps ahead by one after trailing Ohio State, thanks to a pair of three-point buckets from Adreana Miller, a Buckeyes graduate student and point guard.
On the opposite side of the ball, Ohio State freshman forward Dorka Juhasz registered another double-double, with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Juhasz was particularly dominant on the defensive boards; nine of her rebounds were defensive.
However, turnovers and fundamental mistakes such as traveling plagued the Buckeyes throughout much of the afternoon. A shot-clock violation with 47 seconds left-handed the ball back to Maryland, and then Mikesell pulled down that last rebound a few moments later to seal the deal for the Terps.
“The thing that we’re still struggling with at time are turnovers. In the second quarter, especially, we had some turnovers, and they really made us pay in transition,” said Ohio State Head Coach Kevin McGuff. “They’re so good at taking turnovers and turning them into points.”
The Terps ramped up their defense in the fourth quarter and held both Juhasz and forward Makayla Waterman (12 points) to just one bucket apiece in the final period. Ohio State also ran into foul trouble: Waterman fouled out, and freshman forward Aaliyah Patty finished with four fouls.
“We showed a lot of character down the stretch with our poise and our character, especially in the fourth quarter. We had to get stops on the defensive end, and we were able to step up and force them into five turnovers in that stretch, and obviously that was the difference in the game,” said Maryland Head Coach Brenda Frese of her team’s defensive performance. “I thought we were on the same page. I thought we were really locked in.”
This game was the 13th all time between the Terps and the Buckeyes; the series was previously split at 6-6 before Maryland took the lead with Saturday’s victory.
The Buckeyes have a chance to pull the record to .500 again when the Terps travel to Columbus on Jan. 24. Next up, Maryland is slated to face Nebraska, while the Buckeyes will host Indiana.