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Maryland men’s basketball’s bright start fades in 73-65 loss to No. 4 Ohio State

COLLEGE PARK — All of the Maryland men’s basketball team’s ranked wins this season have seemed to come when the team needed them the most, after a tough defeat that threatened to derail the season.

After a disappointing showing in a 55-50 loss at Penn State on Friday night, the opportunity was once again presented for the Terps to shift the direction of a season teetering on disaster. Maryland looked primed for a fifth upset this season but quickly unraveled in a 73-65 loss to No. 4 Ohio State at Xfinity Center on Monday night.

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Guard Duane Washington Jr. and forward Kyle Young scored 18 points apiece to lead a Buckeyes team that had four players score in double figures. Ohio State, which led by as many as 16 in the second half, shot 44.6% from the field and made 10 of 26 3-point attempts, including eight makes in the first half.

“We made mistakes in the first half defensively. ... When you’re trying to get it right, you can’t make mistakes like that against really good teams,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said.

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Junior guard Aaron Wiggins scored 17 points to lead Maryland, which went up 13-5 early but held its last lead at the 5:34 mark of the first half. Fellow junior guard Eric Ayala recorded 13 points but shot 3-for-12 from the field, while sophomore forward Donta Scott added 11 points and four rebounds. The Terps shot 40% from the field, made five of 19 3-point attempts and turned the ball over 12 times, which Ohio State converted into 21 points.

For about 12 minutes, Maryland (10-10, 4-9 Big Ten) resembled the team that had pulled off four wins against ranked opponents this season. Using a driving, downhill approach against a team with similar size, the Terps led 23-17 with 9:04 remaining in the first half after a 6-0 run. But Ohio State (16-4, 10-4) responded with a 14-1 run, with Maryland’s sole point coming off a free throw from a technical foul. The Buckeyes led 35-30 at halftime.

After successfully getting into the paint, Maryland found itself in a familiar dry spell. The Terps missed their first nine shot attempts in the second half and 14 of 15 over about a 13-minute span that connected both halves as the Buckeyes built a 46-32 lead.

“We go through those lulls. That’s just who we are, and we’ve got to keep guarding,” Turgeon said. “And we didn’t guard during that stretch the way we needed to guard. We didn’t run back every time. That was the only negative, just missing assignments, just defensively at times not being as good as we needed to be to beat a team like that.”

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Frustration appeared to boil over for Maryland, as senior guard Darryl Morsell (Mount Saint Joseph), still wearing a protective mask after fracturing a bone in his face on New Year’s Eve, took a shot to the face from junior forward Jairus Hamilton on defense and began bleeding above his left eye with about nine minutes remaining in the game.

Morsell was given a technical foul for slamming his face mask to the ground and the call drew the ire of Turgeon, who had to be separated from a referee.

The Terps cut the deficit to as little as nine but never truly recaptured the momentum in a game that could have pushed them back on the right side of the bubble conversation for the NCAA tournament had the final outcome went in their favor. With just one game remaining against a ranked opponent — No. 25 Rutgers — over the next four weeks, Maryland is considered among the “first four out” in several tournament projections.

“It frustrates all of us because we know we can play better,” Turgeon said. “But we did play better at times tonight, we looked like a different team tonight and that’s encouraging to me moving forward.

“I just think we really care. If we stopped acting that way, that means we quit. And this team has got a lot of fight left in it. We think we’ve still got a chance to make a run here.”

MINNESOTA@MARYLAND

Sunday, 7 p.m.

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM

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