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No. 7 Maryland women’s basketball falls to No. 14 Ohio State, 88-86, ending 24-game winning streak in Big Ten

For the first time in more than a calendar year, the Maryland women’s basketball team has lost to a conference opponent.

The No. 7 Terps fell, 88-86, to No. 14 Ohio State on Monday night in Columbus, Ohio, ending a 24-game winning streak against Big Ten opponents that dated to Jan. 9, 2020. It’s also the Terps’ first loss since a Nov. 28 defeat to then-No. 24 Missouri State at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida, marking the end of a 10-game winning streak.

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Ashley Owusu scored 33 points on 11-for-24 shooting to lead Maryland (11-2, 7-1 Big Ten), which rallied from a nine-point deficit in the final minutes but came up short. Katie Benzan added 22 points, shooting 7-for-12 from 3-point range, while Chloe Bibby added 13 points and Diamond Miller chipped in 10.

Maryland committed 16 turnovers and was outrebounded 44-38.

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“It was a huge X factor in the game for me and then it made us tentative all night with the aggressiveness that they came out with,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said of the turnovers. “Between that and the rebounding were two areas they really exposed us. They’re just a team that’s very scrappy. I thought their guard play dominated for 40 minutes. They were very consistent and I thought they were able to get their hands on a lot of aggressive plays.”

Madison Greene had 24 points, seven assists and five steals to lead Ohio State (9-1, 5-1), which won its second straight over a ranked team after defeating then-No. 11 Michigan, 81-77, on Thursday. Jacy Sheldon scored 21 points and Braxtin Miller added 18 for the Buckeyes, who shot 45.7% from the field.

The teams met for the first time since Maryland routed Ohio State in the conference tournament championship game last season before the NCAA tournament was canceled by COVID-19. This time the Terps, the highest-scoring team, let the aggressive Buckeyes edge past them late in the game.

“I knew this was going to be a real challenge for us,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “Both teams played really well, both teams made big plays. I just think we made a couple more down the stretch to give us a chance to win.”

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After falling behind 26-17 in the first quarter, Maryland rallied to take a 39-36 halftime lead, thanks largely to Benzan, who hit five of her first six 3-point attempts.

“I just got free. Ashley found me when I was open. Some teams are starting to play me closer and trail me on the screen because I’m such a shooter, so Ashley found me where I freed up and they just fell,” Benzan said. “I was just trying to give some life to our team and start a little momentum to switch into our favor.”

The teams went back-and-forth throughout the third quarter, with Ohio State taking a 62-60 lead. Owusu hit a jumper with 6:08 to play to tie the game at 69, but back-to-back 3′s by Miller sparked a 14-3 run that helped the Buckeyes take control of the game. The Terps missed 12 of their next 13 field-goal attempts.

“They’ve gotten into a rut these past three games, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and here. It finally caught up with us against a better team,” Frese said. “It’s taking that ownership that we’re ready to go from the tip, we’re ready to punch first.”

Maryland nearly erased a nine-point deficit in the final minutes, forcing three straight Ohio State turnovers to cut the deficit to 85-80 with 21 seconds to play. A late 3 by Benzan made it 86-83 with nine seconds left, but two free throws by Greene sealed the victory.

“I think our team woke up and saw that they were going to lose,” Frese said of the late spurt. “If we were to have played half the amount of energy that we played in the first three quarters that we did in the late game, great things would’ve been in store for us.”

Dorka Juhasz had 16 rebounds for Ohio State, which plays at No. 16 Indiana on Thursday before taking on No. 23 Northwestern on Feb. 1.

“Every time we go up against Maryland it’s going to be a tough, rough and just overall physical game,” Miller said. “I think we expected that, I think they expected it. Just have to keep playing and keep your head in the game. Can’t let that get to you. That’s just how it’s going to go.”

After Thursday’s game against Rutgers was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Scarlet Knights’ program, the Terps aren’t scheduled to play again until Feb. 4 at Wisconsin.

Baltimore Sun Media reporter Katherine Fominykh and The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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