No. 14 Maryland women’s basketball was tightly contested with No. 6 South Carolina for almost the entirety of the first half. But a late run gave the Gamecocks a 12-point lead at the half, and they never looked back, outscoring the Terps in the second half, 66-40.
Here are some takeaways from Maryland’s loss.
South Carolina was red-hot
While it was anticipated that South Carolina would leverage its substantial size advantage to gain an edge, it instead adopted a three-point-centric approach during the contest.
“They have shooters this year,” said head coach Brenda Frese. “You look at how they dominated the stat line [with] 12 threes. You know, again, the 3:1 assist to turnover ratio, the unselfishness that they’re playing with.”
Maryland’s zone defense, which clogged the paint, forced the Gamecocks to let loose from range. They delivered, going 6-for-15 in the first half and 12-for-24 on the afternoon. In the second half, the Terps transitioned to man-to-man coverage, but continued to double the 6-foot-7 Kamilla Cardoso inside, which led to more open looks.
“When we went to our man [defense], for whatever reason, we were having a really tough time on the on the glass,” Frese said. “So pick your poison with [South Carolina].”
The Terps also shot the three well, going 7-for-12 in the first and 10-of-22 for the game. Four Terps made multiple 3-pointers. But the Gamecocks had 83 shot attempts, and made more than half.
Maryland was able to get a number of deep looks by utilizing a well-orchestrated drive-and-kick game, with Shyanne Sellers and Faith Masonius taking charge at the top of the key.
Those two were also the only players making their mark in the paint for the Terps.
Rebounding and physicality were problems
With both teams shooting the ball at an efficient clip, the true disparity lied in the Terps’ shortcomings in the rebounding and physicality departments.
In the first half, Maryland fared alright, committing just nine personal fouls. However, a shift presented itself late in the second quarter when South Carolina forward Chloe Kitts earned five free throws and five boards.
“I thought our response out of the locker room for the first four minutes was really good and now it’s, for us, just [about] not compounding mistakes,” Frese said. “One mistake leads to two and leads to three. So you know, that’s the growth area.”
As the game progressed and the Terps fell behind, their offense became one-dimensional, and thus easier to defend. Being unable to forge an inside attack with South Carolina’s paint defenders, they had to settle solely for mid-range and 3-point opportunities.
The fourth quarter served as a microcosm of the entire contest. In the first two minutes of play, the Gamecocks out-rebounded the Terps, 5-1. By the midway point of the quarter, they had scored 17 of the 25 points.
“There’s got to be, you know, more discipline,” Frese said. “I mean, for me, the lack of discipline with the and-ones was even more concerning.”
Ultimately, the Terps were out-rebounded, 53-33. Sellers grabbed a team-high eight boards, while South Carolina saw Kitts and Ashlyn Watkins each notch double-digit rebounds.
Maryland’s depth was absent
Aside from Bri McDaniel, who scored 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting, the Terps’ bench failed to contribute anything of substance.
Allie Kubek, who saw 23 minutes of playing time, went 3-of-10 from the field and accumulated four personal fouls. The rest of Maryland’s bench unit scored a total of three points, going a collective 1-for-4.
Meanwhile, South Carolina’s bench played extremely well, with seven players hitting double-digits. Two more fell a basket short.
“I think you saw where [South Carolina’s] depth just really wore us out by the time we got to the end of that second quarter … and then clearly the fourth quarter,” Frese said.
Unlike the Terps, the Gamecocks’ young players were effective contributors. Electric freshman MiLaysia Fulwiley chipped in 12 points and two assists in just 15 minutes of play.
Whether it’s the steady progression of Kubek back from injury or the expedited development of freshmen Riley Nelson and Emily Fisher, Maryland needs answers if it plans to contend with the best teams in the nation.