With under a minute left in the third quarter, Fordham took its first lead of the game, 59-58. Maryland was in disarray, and the Rams were riding the momentum of shooting lights out from deep.
With the score tied at 59 in the waning seconds of the quarter, the Terps looked to their star senior guard to give them a jolt of energy, and Diamond Miller did just that, knocking a buzzer-beater three to give the Terps back the lead — a lead they never relinquished the rest of the way en route to an 83-76 win.
“We were able to keep our poise in our composure in that fourth quarter. But overall we know we can play better and there are a lot of lessons we can learn. It’s nice to come out against a veteran team and get the win,” head coach Brenda Frese said.
In Friday’s loss to No. 1 South Carolina, Maryland couldn’t keep up with the size and depth of the Gamecocks. While Fordham presents an experienced and skilled group, they are a smaller group — no player on the team is taller than six-foot-three — but the Terps still weren’t able to get matchups they could take advantage of.
Even with Miller back in the lineup, a bunch of contributors led the Terps to a hot start on the offensive end. Senior guard Faith Masonius was at the forefront of Maryland’s attack, knocking down a couple of jumpers to start the game, recording five of Maryland’s first seven points.
After getting outmuscled on two box-outs to start the game, Miller had Frese on her early. But the projected top 10 draft pick responded with a highlight-reel block on Fordham’s leading scorer, graduate guard Asiah Dingle.
The Terps subsequently began to roll, entering the second frame with a 19-11 advantage, but some sloppy play toward the tail end of the first quarter kept the score closer than it should have been.
Maryland committed four early turnovers, including three from Miller, but seemed to settle in thereafter, especially on the defensive end.
Unfortunately for Frese’s squad, a familiar problem arose, with Maryland ending up on the losing end of too many rebound battles.
The Terps jumped out to a 27-13 lead, but the Rams went on a 14-2 run over a 2:24 span, forcing Maryland into a couple of turnovers and scoring six points from offensive rebounds during the run.
Fordham was rolling late in the second quarter, taking a 14-point Maryland lead and shrinking it to two. Miller was up to five turnovers in her return and graduate forward Brinae Alexander epitomized the team’s frustration by taking a technical foul.
The Terps were rattled at home, escaping the first half with a 34-33 lead.
The second half began much like how the first ended, with the Rams jumping on the offensive glass and finding open looks.
“They know where the ball needs to go and they did a terrific job. You can see we’re still learning about us and each other,” Frese said.
Frese, animated on the sidelines, shouted at her team to lock in after Fordham graduate forward Kaitlyn Downey drained a three to bring the score to 40-39 early in the half.
“I thought our response was was good. When they took the lead at one point we kept our our composure which we’ve got to be able to do in close knit games,” Frese added.
An 11-0 Maryland run transpired next, as it extended its lead to double digits, but the Rams just wouldn’t allow the Terps to pull away. They kept on pulling up from three and draining those shots. Going 7-for-12 from behind the arc in the quarter, it was just a 56-53 ballgame with 2:09 left in the quarter.
“I think we kind of just pushed the pace and a lot of that happened in transition where it was harder for them to match up,” Fordham head coach Candice Green said.
In the fourth quarter, the Terps looked more like the No. 17 ranked team in the nation they are, eventually pulling away late. Fordham led for just 37 seconds Sunday, but that doesn’t tell the true story of the poor performance from Maryland.
Miller led the Terps with 22 points and 13 boards but also surrendered eight turnovers.
“I have lots to work on. But overall, I think my teammates helped me and pushed me through tonight,” Miller said.
The Terps improve to 2-1 on the season and will be right back at it at the XFINITY Center Wednesday against Davidson.
Three things to know
1. Rebounding is a glaring issue. Even before the season began, Frese noted her team’s lack of size, placing emphasis on their need to rebound collectively and play positionless basketball in transition. So far this season, the Terps have gotten bullied on the boards, and a smaller Fordham lineup had 17 offensive boards to Maryland’s 10 and finished neck and neck with the Terps in total rebounds.
“I was disappointed in our rebounding tonight,” Frese said. To give up 17 offensive rebounds, I thought they just had a hungrier mentality.”
2. A disappointing showing with a positive result. Fordham deserves a ton of credit for its performance, but Maryland was not good against the Rams. Sloppy on both ends of the floor, it took the Terps all 40 minutes to close the game out. They surrendered too many open looks and committed 16 turnovers. The win leaves a lot to be desired for Frese and company.
3. Unfortunate news on the injury front. Before tipoff, a team spokesperson confirmed that sophomore forward Emma Chardon, who left Maryland’s opener at George Mason with a knee injury, sustained a torn meniscus and will be out for the season. It’s been a tough go for injuries for the Terps, who lost junior guard Allie Kubek in September to a torn ACL.
“Staying healthy is the motto for this season,” Miller said after her return from a knee injury.