If there was any game for No. 20 Maryland women’s basketball to show glimpses of complete chemistry, it was against No. 6 UConn at the XFINITY Center in front of 12,566 fans that created an NCAA Tournament-like atmosphere in search of the Terps’ first win in program history over the Huskies.
They did just that Sunday afternoon, defeating UConn, 85-78.
Here are a few takeaways from the game.
Maryland showed it’s about how you finish.
Maryland’s last few games have not been showing the fast-paced scoring offense that head coach Brenda Frese usually runs. The Terps struggled to defend UConn’s remaining healthy starters such as Aaliyah Edwards, who had 10 of UConn’s 19 points through 10 minutes of action on 6-of-7 shooting. The Huskies went on an 8-0 run in the first quarter, which signaled a tone for the game. Diamond Miller went 0-for-6 from the field en route to a 30% shooting first frame from the Terps.
After an earlier morning practice, Frese spoke about what it would look like when her team generates complete chemistry. “I think you’ll see a lot of firepower when we get there,” she said.
She saw some of that Sunday.
“100%,” Frese said. “The energy and effort was consistently there for 40 minutes and the mentality from changing defenses and how locked in we were ... we’re growing in that direction. Was it a perfect game? No game is, but we’re definitely growing in that direction.”
After Shyanne Sellers hit a 3-pointer giving the Terps their first lead of the game, Miller euro-stepped in transition and dished the ball to Abby Meyers for a corner 3-pointer. XFINITY Center was sent into a frenzy. Meyers hit another 3-pointer shortly after. Maryland finished the first quarter looking like a team primed for a deep run in the Big Ten, apparent after committing one first-half turnover. The Terps converted 12 UConn turnovers into 13 points in the first half.
“Shy definitely broke the ice with the threes with that one beforehand and I just appreciate my teammates looking for me in transition,” Meyers said. “I’m gonna keep running and running wide for a shot and I appreciate them looking for me and glad I could knock those down. It was definitely a big run.”
Frese expects this version of Abby Meyers.
Meyers’s second-quarter stat line was 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting, an assist, a rebound and no turnovers.
After some struggles in games earlier in the season and getting benched to start the Purdue game, Meyers showed the version of herself that Brenda Frese recruited to College Park out of the transfer portal. Her offensive prowess put Maryland up 43-36 going into the break, helping it outscore UConn 28-17 in the second quarter.
Maryland played with confidence in the third and fourth quarters. It amassed its largest lead of the game — 11 points with 6:16 remaining in the third period — and was unfazed when UConn trimmed that lead to two to begin the fourth.
UConn is still really talented despite its lack of depth, which Maryland took advantage of.
UConn’s injury bug has manifested itself over the course of the season and eaten away at its lineup, depleting it to seven players after it was reported Nika Mühl and Dorka Juhász were unavailable Sunday. Despite the absence of leading scorer Azzi Fudd, the Huskies were still a formidable foe, though having a two-person bench does not make things any easier.
Head coach Geno Auriemma made do with what was available, which were two players off the bench after having to replace three starters.
Aaliyah Edwards was the go-to offensive weapon for the Huskies after Lou Lopez Sénéchal left the game in the second quarter after picking up her third foul. She played 11 minutes in the first half.
Despite Maryland’s first-half dominance, UConn used multiple offensive runs to pull itself to within two to begin the final quarter. Maryland showed tremendous poise as it held off UConn’s runs, and its deeper bench helped the Terps do that.