Albert King played his finest game at Cole Field House last night in an effort to extend Maryland's basketball season.
But King could not offset the all-out scoring of Ohio State's guards or the Buckeyes' enviable team play and Maryland bowed out of the National Invitation Tournament, 79-72.
The Terrapins concluded their season at 19-11, while Ohio State, 19-10, will be part of a six-team draw this morning that will decide the two byes into Monday's semifinals.
King scored 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the low post and the baseline.
Ohio State guard Kelvin Ransey was his equal the second half, scoring 16 of his 23 points and taking charge of the game.
When Maryland switched to its 3-2 zone in an effort to contain center Herb Williams, who had 15 points, Ransey and guard Mike Cline began penetrating and banging in outside jumpers, fattening the Buckeyes' 36-32 halftime lead.
Their perimeter game was spliced with inside leaping at both ends by 6-2 forward Carter Scott (14 points, five rebounds, two blocks), and 10 points and eight rebounds from Jim Smith.
The Terps cut Ohio State's lead to 69-64 with 3:04 remaining, but the Buckeyes took advantage of two Ernest Graham turnovers to run the count to 75-64 with two minutes left.
The Terrapins were getting almost nothing from center Larry Gibson (one field goal, three points) and, despite Graham's 20 points, were unable to mount a killing rally against the smooth Buckeyes.
Ransey made two straight key baskets to left the lead to 60-52 when the crowd of 11,929 was howling its loudest.
"That's my job," said Ransey. "I'm the captain."
Maryland led three times in the first half by a point but the Buckeyes always seemed ready to reply with a streak of baskets.
"At the beginning of the year," said Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell, "I said we'd be as good as Larry Gibson. But he just had one of those nights. He couldn't get cranked up, and he was in foul trouble."
Gibson picked up his fourth foul in the opening minutes of the second half and played 31 of the 40 minutes.
"We expected Williams and Ransey to score," Driesell said. "It was Cline, Scott and Smith who hurt us."
Also Graham, at least in the key stretch when Maryland could have cut the lead to three.
Graham was first called for traveling, and Smith scored at Ohio State's end on a rebound. On Maryland's next possession, Ransey stole a pass right from Graham's hesitating hands and canned two free throws for a 73-64 lead.
"I didn't travel," said Graham. "It seems like every time you do something drfferent, something out of your imagination, you get called. This is the fourth or fifth time this year I've been called for something like that."
On the passing turnover, Graham said, "I was waiting for Dutch (Morley) to come out, and I pulled the ball back and it rolled right off my fingertips.
"My season? It was terrible. I need to work on my rebounds, my assists and my defense."
Scott, who had his hands full guarding King, said Maryland "has a lot of individual talent but they don't play as well as a team. Like Graham. He doesn't concentrate. He gets into his own little world too much and goes one on one."
Players on both sides called the fast-paced affair a great game, which may or may not have been any consolation to Driesell as he was denied his 200th coaching victory.
"They played a good game and just outscored us," said King. "We couldn't control them from outside.
"We had a young team and a great season. We played hard and everybody hustled."
Someone asked King if he was disappointed that he would not be going to New York, his hometown, for the NIT semifinals.
"It's disappointing but it's not the worst disappointment," King replied. "The place you really want to go is to the NCAAs."