Maryland came here ranked 17th in the nation and hoping that its problems weren't as serious as they seemed. The Terrapins leave here chastened, troubled and, above all, outrebounded.
Ohio State threw a sizable front court at the Terrapins and came away with a 78-66 college basketball victory tonight at St. John Arena, and that was just the start of Maryland's worries. The Buckeyes, with just four lettermen and two starters returning, outrebounded Maryland, 40-28, as three key Terrapins were in foul trouble by the end of the first half.
Maryland trailed by 33-27 at halftime and by 45-41 with 12:43 remaining. But then forward Tom (Speedy) Jones fouled out, the Terrapins turned the ball over four straight times, and the Buckeyes scored nine points in a row to open a 13-point lead with 9:49 left. Four of the points came from 7-footer Brad Sellers, who totaled 14 and had a career-high 19 rebounds. Maryland never came closer than seven again.
"We weren't ranked tonight," Maryland Coach Charles G. Driesell said. "We were ranked about 190th. We've got a lot of work to do."
The most worrisome implication for Maryland was that the preseason suspicions might be correct: Len Bias might not be enough to keep Maryland competitive against bigger teams, and the Terrapins might lack the depth to give him enough help.
Maryland got a game-high 23 points from Bias. But Bias had no aid inside against a Buckeyes front court that went like this: 6-foot-9, 6-9, 7-0. He was triple- and quadruple-teamed, was eight for 22 from the floor and had eight rebounds.
"They've got a lot of big guys," Bias said with a shrug. "There wasn't too much one on one."
The Terrapins were without center Terry Long, who stayed home with a bruised knee, so Driesell started 6-9 freshman David Gregg for some rebounding help against Sellers. Instead, Gregg picked up four fouls with 3:20 left in the first half. He totaled two points and one rebound, and fouled out with 50 seconds left in the game.
"It didn't help much," Driesell said. "I wasn't disappointed so much by David. He's a freshman. What was disappointing were some of the upperclassmen who didn't play so good."
Gregg's foul situation seemed to leave it to 6-9 forward Derrick Lewis, who spent most of his time at center last year. But Lewis picked up his third foul with 12:11 left in the first half, and his fourth with 8:47 left in the game. He still managed 16 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes, but there was no one to pick up the slack.
Other Terrapins didn't do nearly as well. Jones, who picked up his third foul with 6:39 left in the first half, totaled five rebounds and two points in 16 minutes. Guard Jeff Baxter turned the ball over five times, was four of 10 from the floor and the only other Maryland player in double figures. Keith Gatlin was held to six points and turned the ball over three times. Freshman Tony Massenburg filled in adequately at center but his inexperience showed as much as Gregg's; he had four points and three rebounds.
Under those circumstances, the Terrapins could not get a second shot, and Ohio State moved around at will inside. Five Buckeyes, including Sellers, were in double figures. Guard Dennis Hopson had 18 points and six rebounds. Guard Curtis Wilson had 12 points as a reserve. Guard Kip Lomax had 10, and forward Jerry Francis had 10 points and seven rebounds.
"We were getting one shot and they were getting four and five at a time," said Gatlin. "They were getting a lot of easy ones inside."
The turning point came with 12:43 remaining, after two free throws from Bias had pulled the Terrapins to 45-41. But Hopson responded with a layup and turned it into a three-point play on Jones' fifth foul to start the Buckeyes' run.
The Terrapins then turned the ball over four straight times, Gatlin losing one, freshman John Johnson losing an inbounds pass, Johnson getting called for charging, and Baxter dribbling out of bounds. Hopson finished off the run with a tip-in that made it 54-41 with 9:49 left.
Maryland led in the opening minutes of the game, and had a 14-7 margin with 14:30 left in the first half. But the Buckeyes then began working inside, and built a led by as many as 13 points. Maryland cut it to six by halftime by scoring the final eight points of the period.
But Bias was held to eight points in the second half, thanks largely to the defense of Sellers and Hopson. The Terrapins couldn't generate any offense and shot just 46 percent from the floor for the night. The Buckeyes (2-0) actually were worse, shooting 42 pecent, but it was enough.
"One man can't win the game," Sellers said. "Bias got his points and we got ours . . . I just tried to contain him as much as possible, and keep the rest to a minimum."
Maryland (2-1) returns to Cole Field House Tuesday to host Farleigh Dickinson at 8 p.m.