When Maryland head coach Brenda Frese and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley put pen to paper on April 19, 2022, inking a home-and-home series, it became one of the most anticipated matchups in women’s college basketball this season and had an atmosphere akin to March Madness.
The WNBA Draft Lottery preceded the contest and multiple WNBA teams sent reps to watch a potential top draft pick, South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, take the court. Maryland senior guard Diamond Miller, another highly touted prospect, was out with a knee injury sustained against George Mason.
The Terps had their hands full dealing with Boston’s dominance on the court all night long. She showed why she is WNBA-ready as No. 1 South Carolina defeated No. 17 Maryland, 81-56.
Boston ended the game with a double-double of 18 points, 13 rebounds and made 7-of-8 from the field.
Frese needed everyone to step up to keep pace with the high-octane South Carolina offense, which came off a 100-plus-point performance in its opener.
With Miller out, graduate guard Abby Meyers took on the scoring load throughout the game and finished with 21 points on 9-of-21 shooting. She showcased her patented turnaround elbow jumper throughout the game and kept the game relatively close throughout the first half.
“We’re tough players,” Meyers said. “We fight but I think something I learned is that we’re perserverers too and I think the whole 40 minutes, right, third quarter got away from us but we worked just as hard in that third and fourth quarter as we did in the first and second.”
The paint was an area of contention. With Maryland’s lack of height, it made scoring down low a difficult task with Boston and company surrounding the glass. Junior center Kamilla Cardoso also was a towering presence at 6-foot-7. That height advantage allowed South Carolina to get 11 blocks.
“I think it plays a huge role when you’re able to get 11 blocks with not only our length but our athleticism, our ability to speed people up and make them play quicker than they want to play and be able to handle the ball under duress,” Staley said.
To Maryland’s credit, it only trailed by six through 20 minutes. It held South Carolina scoreless during the last 3:11 of the first half, making the Gamecocks go 1-for-11 during that stretch, even without the services of Miller. Boston also did not take a shot in the second quarter.
“I thought they were fronting her all night,” Frese said of her team guarding Boston. “She scored 16 tonight but I mean she really had to work to be able to get her points.”
South Carolina extended its lead to 16 points with two minutes left in the third quarter — its largest of the game. The end to that quarter: a turnover from guard Elisa Pinzan that led to a half-court heave by Zia Cooke, who was fouled on the shot.
The Gamecocks outscored the Terps by six in the fourth quarter to coast to a win. Maryland will have a quick turnaround with a home game Sunday against Fordham.
Three things to know
1. Rebounds, anyone? Maryland’s struggles on the glass made it tough to reasonably trim South Carolina’s lead. The Terps had six offensive rebounds through three quarters, converting them into five second-chance points to South Carolina’s 14. Entering the final 10 minutes, Maryland was being outrebounded, 44-22. The Terps finished the game on the wrong side of a 52-26 rebounding margin.
2. The WNBA lottery occurred Friday night, leading to speculation surrounding the nearby Washington Mystics. The Mystics had a representative at the XFINITY Center looking at the next generation of WNBA talent. Boston is the presumptuous No. 1 overall pick in April 2023’s draft and Miller is listed at No. 4 to Washington in ESPN’s latest mock draft, released on Nov. 10.
3. Miller’s replacement. Sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers started in place of Miller and ended the game prematurely as she limped to the locker room with an apparent ankle injury, leaving Maryland with nine active players. Sellers finished the game with nine points, five rebounds and three assists before fouling out after 23 minutes of action.