One of Maryland's most successful seasons in recent history came to a close last night at Comcast Center. The seventh-seeded Terrapins held their own against second-seeded Ohio State for much of the evening before succumbing, 75-65, in a second-round NCAA tournament game before 4,062.
Maryland (22-10), which also lost in the second round last year, fell short of its quest for its sixth round-of-16 appearance and first since 1992.
Maryland Coach Brenda Frese takes stock of action in the second half.
"It was a tremendous game," Coach Brenda Frese said. "Obviously, we're extremely disappointed. But I'll tell you what, I wouldn't trade this group for anyone. I just thought we did a tremendous job of battling for 40 minutes."
Ohio State (30-4) advances to the regional semifinals for the first time since 1989 to play Rutgers on Sunday in Philadelphia.
This is the third time Ohio State and Maryland have met in the NCAA tournament, with each winning once before. This time the Buckeyes were able to hit key shots down the stretch and Maryland wasn't.
"I think the hardest part was to watch as the shot clock winds down to see them hit the lucky shots that they did," Terrapins guard Kalika France said. "Any time somebody can hit from close to half court, that's lucky. You don't practice that."
France had just made a three-point basket to pull Maryland to 64-56 with just more than four minutes remaining when Caity Matter answered by launching a shot from closer to the mid-court line than the basket with just seconds left on the shot clock. The ball sailed through the net.
In the matchup between two of the top underclassman post players in the nation -- Maryland's 6-foot-3 freshman center Crystal Langhorne and Ohio State's 6-4 sophomore center Jessica Davenport -- the players effectively neutralized each other. Langhorne, the ACC rookie of the year, was only one rebound short of her 18th double-double by halftime. She finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds, tying her with former Maryland standout Vicky Bullett for most double-doubles in a season.
"It was tough offensively, but I think I did an okay job," Langhorne said.
Davenport, the Big Ten player of the year and one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy, which is given to the top player in the country, had 15 points and nine rebounds.
Shay Doron, who scored 26 points in Maryland's first-round game against Wisconsin-Green Bay, finished with nine points on 3-of-15 shooting.
Ohio State "definitely knew where I was at all times tonight," Doron said. "But I got my looks, they just weren't falling for me tonight. I definitely got more than enough good looks, but I just could not knock them down."
The second half began much like the first, with each team struggling to pull away. Then Ohio State, which had made only two three-point baskets in the first half, sank two three-pointers in less than two minutes to take its biggest lead to that point, 53-46.
Freshman Ashleigh Newman made back-to-back baskets to pull Maryland to 53-50, but the Terrapins soon began to unravel. Jade Perry picked up her fourth foul with 11 minutes 42 seconds remaining. Then after the timeout, before the clock moved, Aurelie Noirez was called for her third foul on the inbounds play.
Maryland failed to score on its next three possessions as Ohio State built its lead to 58-50. The Terrapins scored only three points -- all by Langhorne -- during a nearly eight-minute span.
"I think in that second half -- we've kind of had some problems with all season long -- we hit the wall," Frese said. "I think still with this young team we're learning how to push through that."
Maryland and Ohio State played to nearly a draw in a first half that featured 10 lead changes and six ties. Ashley Allen's three-point basket just before the buzzer gave the Buckeyes a 35-34 advantage going into halftime.
In the first half, the Terrapins didn't shoot the ball particularly well -- just 39 percent -- but uncharacteristically the shots they were making were from the perimeter. Taking advantage of the zone defense Ohio State played, Maryland, which had sank only four three-pointers in its last two games combined, made its first four shots from behind the arc.
Maryland had much to be pleased about this season. Its 22 wins -- the first 20-win season under Frese -- were the most since 1993. The Terrapins averaged 73 points per game, which was their highest scoring output in 12 years. Their 42.6 rebounds per game were their most in 25 years.