COLUMBUS, Ohio- With his team trailing the entire second half, senior point guard Anthony Cowan drove in down the lane and finished a left-handed layup over Kaleb Wesson. After the finish, Cowan fell to the ground expecting a foul call from a ref. But his cry was not answered.
An exasperated Cowan looked up at the ref and kicked his leg forward, almost making contact with Wesson. Cowan would receive a technical foul, earning him his fifth foul and disqualifying him from the game, ending Maryland’s comeback bid. The No. 7 Terrapins would fall 79-72 to the Buckeyes.
“Anthony went and shot a layup. Somehow he ends up on the ground. I don’t think he ended up off by himself right. So, no call. We’re a little frustrated,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “He’s not trying to kick Kaleb. He’s looking right at the referee and saying ‘call the foul’ and he was frustrated.
In their first matchup this season, Ohio State struggled to make shots hitting only five of their 27 attempts from three. But on Sunday, the Big Ten leaders in three point percentage came out scorching hot. Guard C.J. Walker drained his first two attempts to put Ohio State up early. When Andre Wesson sank the Buckeyes fifth triple of the half, Value City Arena erupted and Turgeon was forced to take a timeout.
Ohio State’s victory can be attributed to the success of their role players. Guard Luther Muhammad entered the game averaging six points per game. In the January loss in College Park, Muhammad went scoreless missing all six shots. But on Sunday, the New Jersey native shined for the Buckeyes. He drained four of his first five attempts from deep, en route to a season-high 22 points.
“Once his shot started falling, he kinda got going. Got a little rhythm, sophomore guard Eric Ayala said. “It affected the rest of the team. They felt his energy and they were just a good team.”
For Maryland, they struggled to get consistency from their top two players Cowan and Jalen Smith. Cowan made just one field goal, which ties his lowest mark of the season. Smith battled foul trouble all night, playing under 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, Cowan faced extremely stingy defense from the Buckeye guards. Whether it was Walker or Muhammad, Christ Holtmann’s squad always had someone in Cowan’s face making it hard on him. His layup late in the game was his only made field goal.
“They were great. They guarded him well. But Anthony passed the ball well, he had five assists. It seems like he couldn’t get and-one’s,” Turgeon said. “It was just one of those days for Ant.”
Despite the loss, the Terps showed toughness to battle back and make it a competitive game. Aaron Wiggins, who had a career-high six threes, sank a corner trey to put the Terps down a bucket in the second half, but Ohio State’s Kaleb Wesson would have the answer with a slam dunk. The Terps never got that close again.
It was a productive day for Wesson, who scored 15 points and snagged 9 rebounds. The Ohio native was critical in drawing fouls on Jalen Smith and taking “Stix” out of the game. Turgeon described Wesson as a “bully” on offense. He showed a high-level passing ability as well, dishing out three assists
“I mean do you see him? Do you see his size? I mean the kid is big,” Wiggins said of Wesson. I mean he has the ability to step outside the three-point line, hit the shot and he has post moves inside the paint. It’s tough to guard.”
The loss ends Maryland’s nine game win streak but thanks to a Penn State loss Sunday, Maryland still holds a two-game lead in the Big Ten with four games remaining. But the loss makes Maryland’s chance of earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament even slimmer.
The road does not get easier for the Terps as they travel to Minnesota on Wednesday to face a desperate Gopher team, before returning home for a matchup with No. 24 Michigan State.
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