After an 84-75 loss to No. 19 Michigan Tuesday night, the No. 8 Ohio State women’s basketball team (16-3, 5-1 Big Ten) will head on the road for a Monday night game against No. 14 Maryland (16-3, 5-1 Big Ten).
In the last matchup between the two teams, the Buckeyes upset the No. 2 Terrapins 98-87 at the end of the regular season last year. In recent years, Maryland has been the Big Ten’s powerhouse, winning the conference the past two years. Though this year’s Terrapin team lacks the star-power of recent years, Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff stressed his team’s need to be prepared for another top-25 team.
“They’re good, they’re talented, they’re well coached, they’re used to winning,” Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff said. “They have an expectation to win. They’re gonna be ready. We’ll have to be really good on Monday.”
The Terrapins have won 14 of their last 15 games with the lone loss coming Jan. 11 against the Michigan State Spartans.
Redshirt senior guard Linnae Harper said the team will need to come in with the same level of intensity if it hopes to come away with a win against the Terrapins, like it did last year.
“The amount of focus that we had, the amount of intensity and effort we brought, all of us that played that game we just brought it,” Harper said. “We played together, our chemistry was great and we really wanted to win. We have to approach this upcoming game the same way we approached it last year and make sure that we’re doing everything we have to do to get the win.”
Maryland sophomore guard Kaila Charles, who leads her team in scoring with 17.1 points per game, must pick up the workload offensively. The Terrapins’ second-leading scorer, sophomore guard Blair Watson, suffered a torn ACL in a January practice that will force her to miss the remainder of the season. Watson was averaging 13.8 points per game prior to the injury.
The Terrapins’ depth has helped them absorb the loss of Watson this season. Maryland has six active players who put up at least 10.5 points per game, and would have been seven had Watson not suffered a season-ending injury.
This game will have major implications on which team takes the edge in the Big Ten. Ohio State and Maryland are tied for first atop the conference and both are the only teams with one loss. Conference control is not McGuff’s main focus, though.
“I just think it’s about us being prepared for this game and putting our best foot forward here, as we saw Tuesday anything can happen,” McGuff said. In the Big Ten there’s a lot of parity this year. We need to take this game first and go from there.”
The Buckeyes will need to find a way to put up points on a night when the 3-pointer does not fall. While they were aggressive and hit 17-of-22 free throws the previous game, they shot 36 percent from the field, which hindered their second-half productivity.
McGuff said he would like to see his team stay patient, even when shots aren’t dropping for the team.
“One, continue to take good shots no matter what,” McGuff said. “Two, just continue to work [on it]. I think we’ve, knock on wood, done a better job recently getting some balance in our offense, scoring a little bit more around the basket and I think we need to continue to do that.”