It was far from a work of art, but the eighth-ranked Maryland women’s basketball team won its sixth straight, surviving a scare from Ohio State, 67-55, Wednesday night as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in front of 3,737 at Comcast Center.
Thanks to game highs of 25 points and 12 rebounds from senior Alyssa Thomas and timely baskets from teammates, the Terrapins moved to 7-0 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Maryland is the only school in either conference to remain unbeaten in the Challenge since its inception in 2007.
Thomas (8-for-16 shooting, four assists, two steals, one block) was the only Maryland player to score in double figures. The victory was in doubt until consecutive baskets from point guards Lexie Brown and Brene Moseley in the final minutes. Brown, a freshman, sank a three-pointer from the right wing with 2 minutes 42 seconds left in regulation, and Moseley, a redshirt sophomore, moments later drove into the lane 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 Terrapins (8-1) shot just 36 percent in their final ACC/Big Ten Challenge as a member of the ACC, including 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 two-to-one margin in offensive rebounding (23-12), yielded no fast-break points and got to the foul line eight more times than its soon-to-be regular conference opponent. The Terrapins 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 Terrapins used an 11-2 burst to open the second half after clinging to a one-point lead shortly before the break. Thomas began the push with a jumper, and senior center Alicia DeVaughn added a layup for a 33-26 lead that grew to 12 following Moseley’s three-pointer and consecutive field goals by Thomas.
But Maryland was unable to gain more separation thanks to Ohio State’s shooting from beyond the arc. The last of the Buckeyes’ three second-half three-pointers came from sophomore guard Ameryst Alston and was part of a surge that drew 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, with Alston’s 18 points leading the way. Sophomore guard Cait Craft and senior forward Martina Ellerbe added 11 points 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.”