Before I delve into the details of Monday’s 71-56 loss at Duke, I’m going to get my officiating rant off my mind. Coach Brenda Frese was called for two technical fouls and ejected with Maryland trailing 59-50 and just under four minutes left in a competitive and very physical game. In nearly eleven seasons of watching Coach Frese, I can think of only one game from which she was ejected. The date of that game would be February 11, 2013. (Note: WAPO article on Tuesday confirmed that this was Frese's first career ejection.) Maryland lost tonight’s game for a number of reasons: 24 turnovers; combined 7 for 30 shooting from Tianna Hawkins and Alyssa Thomas; a rebounding margin of only 2; no edge in second chance points; oh, and a deficit of 13 points (11 attempts) at the free throw line.
The game didn’t star well for the Terps as they were called for two early offensive fouls and had four turnovers on their first six possessions allowing Duke to open an 11-4 lead. Katie Rutan hit the first of her four three pointers to cut the lead to four and the teams traded baskets into the first media timeout. Apparently recovered from her concussion, Sequoia Austin entered the game early as did Malina Howard who grabbed an early offensive rebound and was fouled on the put back but missed both free throws. On the ensuing possession, Rutan drew the first of three Duke charging fouls but the Terps turned the ball over on the inbounds pass. Duke failed to capitalize and Rutan’s second three pointer brought Maryland within three at 15-12. The Devils answered immediately with a three pointer of their own that sparked a 7-0 run to extend the lead to ten. A three pointer from Pavlech cut the lead to seven. With the Terps trailing 24-15, Rutan doubled up on her specialties, taking a charge at one end and dropping in another three pointer at the other. After drawing within six, Maryland turned the ball over on its next four possessions and again faced a double digit deficit as a result. The drought ended when Rutan and Thomas hit back to back jumpers to cut Duke’s margin back to six. Closing the half efficiently with jumpers from Austin and Howard surrounding two Thomas free throws, the Terps trailed 31-28 going into the half with no points from the ACC’s leading scorer Tianna Hawkins.
The second half opened with a Maryland turnover but the Terps raised their defensive intensity and Rutan’s three pointer tied the score at 33 with 18 minutes to go. Duke answered with a three of their own and after a Terrapin miss, Rutan took another charge. She was unable to complete the Rutan special when she missed her three point jumper but Thomas grabbed the rebound and made both free throws to pull the Terps within one. Trailing 38-37, the Terps missed a pair of open jumpers that would have given them their first lead of the game. Just over three minutes later, after a Duke turnover, Pavlech’s three put Maryland ahead for the first and only time 44-42 with 10:51 to play. The home team quickly recaptured the momentum and reeled off nine straight (including two perplexing officiating calls) to take the lead back to seven before an Alicia DeVaughn lay up stopped the bleeding. Coming out of the media timeout, she missed completing the traditional three point play. Maryland would again cut the lead to five at 55-50 with just over five minutes left in the game. Duke scored twice to stretch the lead to nine before the double technical fouls put the Terps in too deep a hole – down 13 with 3:51 to play - to recover.
Maryland returns home to take on Clemson Thursday night and will have a chance to avenge this loss in just under two weeks when Duke comes to Comcast on February 24th.