I’m not going to go into a lot of the gory details in terms of tonight’s play by play in Maryland’s 63-48 loss to the UConn Huskies in front of a crowd of just over 11,000 in Hartford. Instead, I’m going to go into coach mode and put as positive a spin on this game as I can.
Before the game, if you had shown me the following items from the box score: MD 26 turnovers; Alyssa Thomas 6 points on 2 of 12 shooting; and Maryland rebounding edge only 39-35, I’d probably have given a score of somewhere around 90-60. So from that perspective 63-48 doesn’t look so bad. Of course, going into UConn down three players (only 8 on the active roster) and with a true freshman starting at point guard the pre-game picture was far from rosy to begin with.
In brief, some of the ugly, the good and the bad would go a bit like this: For the Ugly Maryland turned the ball over 3 times in their first 3 possessions, gave up 2 offensive rebounds and were down 6-0 before the game was two minutes old. After a quick time out, the Terps finally broke the ice on a lay up by Alicia DeVaughn. The Huskies still dominated the early going and stretched their lead to 17-8. The Good showed up in a 7-0 run that pulled the Terps to within two at 17-15. Sadly, things turned bad as UConn responded with a 10-0 run before Katie Rutan dropped in 3 free throws after being fouled in the act. The half ended with the home team on top 33-20.
Connecticut stretched their lead to 15 scoring on the opening possession of the second half. After falling behind 39-24, the Terps put together another little run outscoring UConn 9-1 over a four minute stretch to close to within seven at 40-33. This was as close as Maryland would get for the rest of the night as the hosts answered with a 3 point jumper and a traditional three point play after a Maryland turnover to quickly regain command. The Huskies were able to stretch the lead out to 19 before the Terps closed to the final margin.
Here are some positives to take from this game. First, although she had 4 turnovers and only 3 assists, I think Chloe Pavlech grew up a lot tonight. She was more assertive in looking for her shot and played much of the game with a confidence that belied her relative inexperience. Although teams will continue to press Maryland, few will have the length, athleticism and depth of UConn. Yes, the Terps had 26 turnovers but only 8 in the second half (and Connecticut did not press significantly less). Huskie opponents had averaged almost 23 turnovers per game coming into tonight’s contest so given the circumstances, the Terps didn’t fare too badly on that score.
Maryland’s defensive effort was outstanding. Before tonight’s game UConn was averaging 92 points per game on 65% shooting (44% from behind the arc) and had broken 100 twice. The Terrapin defense held them to sixty-three points on 38% shooting (33% from 3 point). The huskies had averaged 25 assists and 13 turnovers per game. Tonight, those numbers were 16 and 17.
On the offensive side, Connecticut had been holding its opponents to 28.6% shooting and Maryland shot 35 percent though they were only 1 for 8 from three. Their opponents had averaged 43 points per game and only two (Texas A&M and Purdue) had reached or broken fifty. Those two teams lost by 31 and 34 respectively. Finally, Connecticut had been out rebounding its foes by just under 14 per game and as noted above, Maryland won that battle by four.
Individually, Chloe Pavlech had a career high with ten points and Tianna Hawkins managed yet another double-double with 14 points and 10 boards. The Terps are at home to face a quality UVA team Thursday night. Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm.