It’s hard to pinpoint a single moment in a game when a team’s fortunes turn for the worst, but for No. 2 Maryland women’s basketball, it happened at the 2:56 mark in the second quarter against No. 7 Stanford.
“I felt like we lost our minds in [the second] quarter,” Head Coach Brenda Frese said after the game. “Mentally, we were not very good. I thought we lost our poise and our composure.”
Guard Ashley Owusu put her shoulder down and drove into the restricted area and was called for a charge, picking up her third foul of the game. The junior guard was then assessed a flagrant, giving her four fouls. The Terps’ top facilitator was then subbed out and did not return until the third quarter.
“I don’t think we came out to compete this whole tournament and also just our effort,” Owusu said. “I think we came out flat against both teams. With top 10 teams, this is what happens. I think we just got to regroup and come back and be able to come out every day no matter what.”
An early Angel Reese foul made a thin Maryland bench even thinner. The early whistle proved prescient as Reese fouled out three minutes into the fourth. She finished with a season-low six points and five rebounds.
Fouls were a common theme for Maryland Saturday afternoon in its eventual 86-67 loss to Stanford in the Bahamas on Saturday afternoon. The defeat marks the Terps’ second straight loss, as they most recently fell to No. 5 NC State just two days ago on Thanksgiving morning.
“I thought [Stanford] outworked us,” Frese said, “outhustled us, outcompeted us for 40 minutes. That’s what a championship team looks like.”
The Cardinal finished the opening quarter on a 13-4 run courtesy of three threes from Hannah Jump, who had nine points in the opening 10 minutes.
Two minutes into the second quarter after Maryland trailed by seven at the end of one, Chloe Bibby, who finished with 15 points and four rebounds, logged her ninth point of the afternoon, besting her total from the loss to the Wolfpack.
In response, Stanford marched down the court and fed the hot hand; Jump knocked down her fourth three of the contest.
Following a Maryland two to begin the second, Stanford went on a 7-0 run and forced Frese to call a timeout with her team down 12.
For a second consecutive game, Maryland went into halftime down by more than 20 points. To make matters worse, the Terps’ two top players, Reese and Owusu, were in serious foul trouble after 20 minutes, further limiting an already constricted lineup. In the first half, the Cardinal outshot the Terps in field goals (47%-32%), three-point field goals (46-33) and free-throw percentage (67-0) en route to a 46-24 lead.
Inconsistent shooting again revealed how much the team misses the eagle eye of Katie Benzan.
“Katie is a great shooter, and she spaces the floor out,” Owusu said. “I think we were missing that piece, so just what I said earlier, just effort. I think we just got to play harder and just be able to compete.”
After going scoreless through the first 20 minutes of the affair, Reese finally saw a shot fall at 9:21 of the third. However, the sophomore forward/guard lasted a mere two minutes before picking up her fourth personal foul and heading to the bench.
A 14-2 Stanford run over almost three minutes saw the advantage balloon to 31 and forced another Marland stoppage.
There were some positives to round out the third — Owusu had eight of her game-high 29 points and the team made it to the line 10 times, eight of which they made — but the Cardinal still went into the break up 27.
Hannah Jump led all Stanford scorers with 21 points on 7-for-14 shooting from three, Lexie Hull put up 15 points and eight rebounds, Fran Belibi notched 15 points and six boards, and Haley Jones had a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double.
Outside of Owusu and Bibby, no Maryland player reached double-digit scoring in the 19-point defeat.
“We’re asking Chloe Bibi to replace Diamond [Miller] at the wing,” Frese said. “It’s a lineup that we’re doing our best with what we have available right now. So I’m not worried about that once we get them back.”
Three things to know
1. Angel Reese was held quiet in the loss. Reese, Maryland’s star forward/guard who has been one of the more impactful players to start the season, was largely stopped on offense against a stout Stanford defense. Reese had a season-low six points and she shot just 2-for-13 from the floor. In her three most recent games, she tallied 23, 17 and 24 points, respectively. She was held in check the entire way against the Cardinals, and as a result of her overall inefficiency on the floor, she only played 16 minutes. Reese will look for a bounce-back effort in Maryland’s next game on Dec. 2.
“We need poise, and we do need calmness,” Frese said. “It’s not just about when things are going well for you and your offense is clicking, or you’re blocking shots, or you’re making plays. It’s about what you do in adversity.”
2. Maryland’s lack of depth was exposed once again. With Katie Benzan and Faith Masonius out once again, and with guard Diamond Miller still out of the lineup, the Terps’ lack of depth was exposed against one of the best teams in the nation. It’s hard enough to beat a top-10 team at full strength, but without some of the program’s top players, it seemed as though Maryland didn’t have much of a fighting chance from the start. Maryland was forced to roll with seven total players and only three players scored nine points or more. The Terps need the likes of Benzan, Masonius and Miller to return soon to help recapture Maryland’s early-season success.
3. The Terps didn’t get a chance to show their true selves in the Bahamas. Though the back-to-back losses to No. 5 NC State and now No. 7 Stanford may look like poor results on paper, it’s not a clear reflection of how talented this team really is. Maryland has been missing three of its top players and it obviously had a negative impact during the two games as it totaled just 60 and then 67 points. Maryland will look to get healthier during the short break before the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, which will come against Miami in College Park on Dec. 2.
“I think you are seeing that teams are playing in a much more competitive schedule and kind of wanting to learn about themselves in November to prepare themselves for what lies ahead,” Frese said.