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No. 14 Maryland women’s basketball rolls past Pittsburgh, 87-63

The Terps finished 2-1 at the Fort Myers Tip-Off.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

No. 14 Maryland women’s basketball started the third quarter sporting a 33-26 lead over Pittsburgh. The Terps looked to make revisions to their first-half performance in order to stretch their lead even further.

Maryland senior guard Brinae Alexander drilled three 3-pointers in the third period, as the Terps went 6-for-7 from distance in a 36-point quarter to eventually cruise to an 87-63 victory over Pittsburgh.

“Yeah, I was really proud of myself. It felt really good to see the ball go in the hole. But Coach B [Brenda Frese] said earlier in the day, it’s going to be who’s tougher mentally and physically,” Alexander said, “Third game in three days and I just knew I had to lock in and focus on what we do best.”

The Terps won two of three games at the Fort Myers Tip-Off at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Florida to move to 6-2 on the season.

Maryland and Pittsburgh started the game with an emphasis to push the pace and race out in transition.

In the first quarter, the Terps turned defense into offense. Senior guard Diamond Miller blocked a Pittsburgh shot attempt, then senior forward Faith Masonius corralled the loose ball and proceeded to launch a leading pass to a sprinting Miller for an easy layup. Masonius’ assist gave Maryland an early 9-5 lead.

“I thought we were going to learn a lot about our team today [after] playing three games in three days. I loved to to see our toughness and resiliency,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “I thought it started on the defensive end, just ready to defend and came out really aggressive and then on the offensive end and when we’re sharing the basketball like we did today [with] 21 assists, our offense can be really easy.”

The Terps took a 17-11 lead after the first 10 minutes after shooting the lights out from behind the arc. Maryland went 2-for-5 on 3-point attempts, as senior guards Brinae Alexander and Abby Meyers found success from distance.

The second quarter started a little slow for Maryland, as it struggled to score on a few possessions.

Maryland sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers continued to flash her defensive prowess; She is becoming a pest at the top of the Terps’ 1-2-2 full-court press. Early in the quarter, Sellers’ defensive activity forced a steal that allowed her to race down the court for an uncontested layup.

With under five minutes until halftime, Miller showed her ability to find others for scoring opportunities. She drove hard to her left but was cut off by a Pittsburgh defender. Senior guard Lavender Briggs used a backdoor cut to sprint towards the rim, and Miller delivered the pass in-stride to set Briggs up for a layup.

Maryland took a 33-26 advantage into the locker room after owning the glass in the first half with a 25-21 margin. The Terps’ defense was effective with using active hands to force nine points off as many turnovers in the first 20 minutes of action.

The Terps started the third quarter with a focus to value the basketball and to find success on the offensive end.

Maryland outscored its counterpart in the third quarter by a wide 36-21 margin. The Terps were a flawless 10-for-10 from the free-throw line in the third frame to add to their dominance.

Meyers continues to shine, as she notched 12 points in the quarter. Meyers cashed in on a pair of three pointers, forcing a Pittsburgh timeout on one occasion.

“Coach said for us [to continue] to dive on the floor [for loose balls], get 50-50 balls. In the first half we were able to do that, but not to the level of excellence that we wanted,” Meyers said. “In the third quarter, we really wanted to be a better team and make that run and really set ourselves up for the fourth quarter.”

Maryland head coach Brenda Frese emptied her bench in the fourth quarter while still limiting Pittsburgh to 28.6% shooting in the final 10 minutes.

Maryland will travel to South Bend, Indiana, on Thursday for a clash with No. 9 Notre Dame in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Three things to know

1. Maryland finished the Fort Myers Tip-Off with a 2-1 record. The Terps dropped the first game of the holiday tournament to DePaul on Friday, 76-67, shooting a concerning 31.6% from the field. Maryland bounced back strong, though, taking down Towson by 11 and destroying Pittsburgh. The Terps made 49.2% of their shots against Towson and drilled nine threes against the Panthers.

2. Brinae Alexander scored 17 points off the bench. Coming into the season, many fans knew Diamond Miller’s scoring prowess would be a reliable contribution for a Maryland team facing a lot of roster turnover. The Terps have nine newcomers this season and each will play a role for a team looking to compete for a Big Ten title. Vanderbilt transfer Brinae Alexander provided a much-needed spark off the bench for the Terps, evidenced by her 17 points Sunday. Alexander’s impact was mostly felt from three-point range, as she cashed in on 5-of-8 shots from distance.

3. Turnovers continue to present problems for the Terps. Maryland has a roster filled with players who have not gelled as quickly as many may have expected. The Terps recorded 14 turnovers versus Pittsburgh, with a handful of their mishaps coming on traveling violations. With a matchup against No. 9 Notre Dame coming up, Maryland would be wise to clean up this area and to produce more scoring opportunities for its offense.