Three Points: Ohio State finally pulls through late, outlasts Maryland in double overtime

On3 imageby:Andy Backstrom02/10/24

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COLUMBUS — Third time’s the charm.

Ohio State couldn’t finish Saturday’s game against Maryland in regulation. Or in the first overtime. But it finally got the job done in double overtime — and in dramatic fashion.

Bruce Thornton used a screen from senior center Zed Key and a stop-and-go move to get to the cup for the go-ahead bucket.

Despite a subsequent Thornton steal, UMD still had a chance to win because Jamison Battle missed a jumper that would have put away the Terrapins. But Key blocked a potential game-tying layup from Donta Scott.

That’s when Thornton threw the ball upcourt to his backcourt partner, Roddy Gayle Jr.

Calmly but confidently Gayle collected the rock, dribbled it and then uncorked a windmill dunk — with fellow guard Dale Bonner elevating at the same time as Gayle — for a picture-perfect and crowd-inspiring finish.

Ohio State closed a 79-75 double overtime win to the tune of an unusually loud Schottenstein Center, which is on pace for record-low attendance this season but hosted 13,471 fans Saturday.

After losing eight of their previous nine games, the Buckeyes (14-10, 4-9 Big Ten) are back in the win column, albeit against a Maryland (13-11, 5-8) squad that’s also in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament.

Lettermen Row has Three Points from Ohio State’s much-needed win.

Second-chance points thorn in Buckeyes side, especially early

Defensive rebounding has been an issue for head coach Chris Holtmann’s teams, and that was again the case in the first half Saturday against UMD. Although the Terps recorded only five offensive rebounds in the opening 20 minutes of play, they had 10 second-chance points to show for those.

It started with sophomore big man Mady Traore closing in for a putback over Ohio State’s Evan Mahaffey. Traore, who averaged just 7.0 minutes in his first seven appearances this season, got the start Saturday (one of two changes UMD head coach Kevin Willard made to his starting five) and pitched in six first-half points. Moments later, an aggressive Julian Reese — who had a team-high nine field goal attempts and five rebounds in the first half — turned an offensive board into a dunk.

UMD’s first two buckets were both on second-chance opportunities. It got two more as it grew its 10-point advantage later in the period. En route to his 12 first-half points, Scott came flying in for a putback. Then, capitalizing on another offensive rebound, leading scorer Jahmir Young dialed up an alley-oop for Traore.

Reese delivered a second-chance and-one in the second half right after Gayle lifted Ohio State to a one-point lead with 11:49 to go.

For a Buckeyes team that came into the day with eight sub-70% defensive rebounding performances this season, according to Sports Reference, they once again got hurt on the glass at that end of the court. Even though UMD had just 11 offensive boards in 50 minutes, the Terps made Ohio State pay for the ones they got.

Increased Dale Bonner production, more foul trouble for Devin Royal and Felix Okpara

Bonner has been under fire this season for his drop-off in efficiency compared to the numbers he put up off bench at Baylor the last two years.

Against UMD, however, Bonner contributed in a way Ohio State expected him to — as a scorer, facilitator and defender. That said, his bounce-back effort still included a few head scratching moments, like when he had a bad pass turnover in the first half that led to an and-one for Young or when he airballed a 3-pointer later in the period.

That said, Bonner knocked down a pair of jumpers in the opening frame, in addition to booking a trip to the charity stripe after forcing a steal on a Terps handoff near half court. He went up and under for a layup in transition in the second half as well.

Bonner was a boost off the bench versus UMD. Devin Royal, meanwhile, was hindered by foul trouble again. After committing three first-half personals in the loss to Indiana on Tuesday — and then not playing in the second period — Royal had four fouls six minutes into the final frame. Although the freshman forward played a role with five points, six rebounds and two steals, he was in for just 14 minutes.

What’s more, center Felix Okpara also struggled to stay away from whistles for the second straight game. That hasn’t been a problem for Okpara this season, at least as much as it was during his freshman campaign, but it made Holtmann turn to Key in the second half. Key was battling illness and was questionable coming into Saturday. He chipped in four crucial points, but his impact in other areas of the game was even more significant.

Bruce Thornton pilots final Ohio State push, double overtime win

With 4:12 left, the Buckeyes trailed UMD, 60-56. They found themselves in a familiar spot that’s plagued them each of the last two winters: It was a make or break moment.

On Saturday, Holtmann’s crew delivered — well, eventually.

Thornton, who finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and four assists, was the architect at the end of regulation. He fed Okpara for an alley-oop dunk, and then, with about a minute to go, the sophomore point guard drilled a game-tying 3-pointer.

Both Thornton and Young got potential game-winners off. Neither fell.

So the game turned to overtime, where Gayle got an acrobatic reverse layup to go. UMD answered with a corner 3-pointer from DeShawn Harris-Smith. Luckily for the Buckeyes, Jamison Battle — who scored all eight of his points in the second half and the overtimes — responded from mid-range.

Following two trips to the free throw line for Young, Thornton found his way inside for a layup to draw Ohio State within one, 70-69. Young got back to the charity stripe again for two more free throws, except he made only one of them.

That meant that Thornton’s take to the rack was good for a game-tying layup, 71-71.

But the first overtime ended like regulation did, with Ohio State and UMD trading misses on potential game-winners. This time, it was Battle for Ohio State and, again, Young for UMD.

The second overtime, on the other hand, had a movie-like ending. Thornton scored the go-ahead layup, Gayle slammed home the game-clinching dunk. And Key, who Holtmann was unsure was going to even play, contributed a screen and block that helped seal the deal.

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