It was far from a work of art, but the eighth-ranked Maryland women's basketball team won for the sixth time in a row after surviving a game challenge from Ohio State, 67-55, Wednesday night as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in front of an announced 3,737 at Comcast Center.
Thanks to game highs of 25 points and 12 rebounds from senior Alyssa Thomas and a pair of timely baskets from two teammates, the Terps moved to 7-0 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Maryland is the only school in either conference to remain unbeaten in the event since it began in 2007.
Thomas (8-for-16 shooting, four assists, two steals, one block) was the only Terp to score in double figures, and the victory was in doubt until consecutive baskets from point guards Lexie Brown and Brene Moseley in the final minutes. Brown, a freshman, made a 3-pointer from the right wing with 2minutes, 42 seconds left, and Moseley, a redshirt sophomore, drove deep into the lane moments later for a layup and a 61-53 lead.
"Really proud of how we played," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "Obviously, we take great pride in the Challenge. Really loved the late game, down the stretch, the confidence that we played with against a really physical, tough, strong team."
The Terps (8-1) shot just 36 percent in their final Big Ten/ACC Challenge as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, missing 22 of 31 shots in the first half, but outmatched Ohio State in rebounding (53-35), points in the paint (34-12) and bench points (23-8).
Maryland owned a nearly 2-to-1 margin in offensive rebounding, 23-12, and an 8-0 edge in fast-break points; the Terps also got to the free-throw line eight more times than their soon-to-be conference opponent. The Terps are set to join the Big Ten beginning next season.
"We love the ACC/Big Ten Challenge," Thomas said. "Just to be able to be 4-0 since I've been here, we take great pride in it. I can't wait to see what they do in the next couple years."
The Terps, who led by one point shortly before the break, used an 11-2 burst to open the second half. Thomas began the push with a jumper, and senior center Alicia DeVaughn added a layup for a 33-26 lead that grew to 12 after Moseley's 3-pointer and consecutive field goals by Thomas.
But Maryland could not gain more separation, partly because of Ohio State's shooting from beyond the arc. The last of the Buckeyes' three second-half 3-pointers came from sophomore guard Ameryst Alston and helped draw Ohio State within seven.
Ohio State (6-4) scored six of the next eight points to draw to 56-53, but it made just one field goal over the final three minutes.
The Buckeyes had three players in double figures, led by Alston's 18 points. Sophomore guard Cait Craft and senior forward Martina Ellerbe added 11 each, although the trio missed 26 of 39 shots combined.
"Maryland is a terrific team," Buckeyes coach Kevin McGuff said. "They're talented and well coached, and they play hard. The difference was they got too many points in transition and too many points off offensive rebounds. We have to get better in those areas to win a game like this on the road."
Siena@No. 8 Maryland