Down seven late in the fourth quarter, No. 14 Maryland women’s basketball senior guard Diamond Miller fouled out of the game, all but ending the contest, as DePaul pulled off a shocking 76-67 upset over the Terps in their first game of the Fort Myers Tip-Off Tournament.
While it looked like Maryland had the momentum late, DePaul stunned the Terps, going on a 9-0 run to bring its lead to eight with just over four minutes left and holding Maryland off from there.
The tournament began Friday morning with Maryland taking on DePaul, and it was the Blue Demons who came out of the gate looking much better than the No. 14 team in the country.
DePaul’s defense, which had struggled immensely heading into the game, was good early, forcing Maryland into an abysmal 1-of-10 start from the field. The Terps’ offense looked like a shadow of itself, down 8-2 at the first media timeout of the first quarter.
Maryland knew that it would have its hands full trying to stop DePaul sophomore forward and All-American Aneesah Morrow, who came into the contest averaging 31.5 points per game, leading the nation. In the Blue Demons’ previous two games, she had scored 77 combined points to go along with 22 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks.
Unsurprisingly, she recorded the first five points for DePaul, but the Terps were able to contain her for the most part, holding her to just 10 points at the half.
Frese’s squad had no business being in the game at the half given how sloppy its offensive play was, and DePaul went into the break with a deserved 35-27 advantage.
Frese complimented the Blue Demons, saying, “they have a tremendous inside-outside game. With Morrow being so aggressive and such a dynamic scorer in so many ways and then their scoring ability. They took 30 threes and shot 37% from the three-point line.”
Maryland simply couldn’t hit shots in the first half, and it settled for too many looks from behind the arc, shooting just 4-15 from three.
“The first half we just didn’t play our game,” senior forward Faith Masonius said.
Senior guards Diamond Miller and Abby Meyers, who lead the Terps’ offense, were a combined 3-of-9 shooting, and without much complimentary help, the Terps looked like they would be in trouble Friday.
It wasn’t easy for Maryland. The Terps cut the lead to five a few minutes into the second half, but the Blue Demons brought that back to double digits.
Frese put the Terps into a full-court press defense, which worked to perfection, forcing DePaul into a long scoring drought in the third quarter.
Morrow had knocked down a fade-away three early in the fourth quarter, giving DePaul a surprising 52-47 lead, but Masonius countered that with a tough and-one on the other end, electrifying the Maryland bench and forcing Morrow to the sidelines with her fourth foul of the day.
Maryland was also able to cause four turnovers in the third, and although DePaul kept a lead, the momentum was tilting in the Terps favor.
Slowly but surely, with DePaul’s offense in a stalemate, Maryland chipped away at the deficit, down by just two headed into the fourth quarter.
But DePaul fought through, taking it to the No. 14 team in the country and pulling away late for a nine-point victory.
The loss brought the Terps record to 4-2 on the season.
Maryland will look to bounce back against Towson on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
“We didn’t get the win we wanted today. We can be mad about the loss for five minutes but then we have to have a short memory and turn it around,” Masonius said.
Three things to know
1. A star showdown disappointed. Friday’s game featured two of the nation’s best players in Diamond Miller and Aneesah Morrow, but Miller didn’t play up to her ability. Morrow had an impressive 22-point, nine-rebound performance despite getting into foul trouble, but Miller didn’t hold up her end of the bargain, scoring just 11 points and fouling out just one game removed from willing the Terps to victory at Baylor with a 32-point showing.
2. An unexpected game script. Maryland averaged 74 points coming into the game, while DePaul averaged close to 90 points. Both teams struggled on the offensive end, though, especially early. The Terps began the game 2-20 from the field and were lucky to only be down 35-27 at the half because of DePaul’s imperfect shooting. This was expected to be an offensive showdown, but it was instead a sloppy showcase. Late free throws inflated DePauls final score line.
3. The Terps’ road trip started on the wrong note. While DePaul isn’t a horrible team and has some solid pieces — most notably Morrow — Maryland should’ve been able to come away with a victory in its first game at the Fort Myers Tip-Off. Instead, the Terps put together a rough offensive performance, shooting just 31.6% from the field. They’ll have an opportunity to bounce back Saturday against Towson, but their performance Friday wasn’t up to the standard they have established for themselves.
“The great thing about this tournament is we have two more games so there are opportunities for us to continue to build as a team and get better at this point in the year,” Frese said.