No. 20 Maryland women’s basketball needed a strong start against No. 8 UConn. However, the Terps found themselves repeating many of the same errors that plagued them in a recent blowout loss at South Carolina.
Maryland’s paint defense remained vulnerable, and the Terps committed a staggering 27 turnovers in a 80-46 loss at the hands of the Huskies.
“This team is still a work in progress,” said head coach Brenda Frese. “Film will keep us humble and hungry, and, you know, we’ll be able to go back and get ready.”
The initial moments of the game painted a vivid contrast between two teams. UConn exhibited remarkable patience, capitalizing on the exceptional performances of guards Nika Muhl and Paige Bueckers.
On the other hand, the Terps appeared rushed, opting for unnecessary threes within the opening moments of the shot clock. Their ball movement lacked precision, resulting in four turnovers in the first five minutes of play.
The Huskies’ defensive strategy effectively shut down Maryland’s attempts to penetrate the lane. Consequently, the Terps’ usually effective drive-and-kick approach was stifled, causing difficulties for Shyanne Sellers to orchestrate the offense.
While Sellers concluded the quarter for Maryland with a clutch 3-pointer, the team’s overall performance was lackluster. Its 3-for-10 shooting from the field and four blocked shots highlighted early inefficiencies.
The start of the second quarter revealed a distinct shift in Maryland’s offensive strategy, showcasing Sellers’ adeptness at cutting to the basket. This increased focus in the paint area forced the Huskies to adjust defensively, subsequently opening up more opportunities for perimeter shots.
Nevertheless, the Huskies stole all momentum before halftime with an impressive 20-4 run. Bueckers played a pivotal role in this surge, contributing 11 points and making two crucial steals.
Adding to the challenge, Sellers picked up her third foul just three minutes before halftime, prompting Frese to sideline her best player.
“[The Huskies] were just aggressive,” Sellers said. “I just can’t have eight turnovers.”
Trailing 42-27 at halftime and shooting a mere 26% from the field, Maryland required a substantial response to turn the tide — one that never came.
As Maryland attempted to regain momentum, its game plan faltered, echoing the struggles seen against South Carolina. UConn, meanwhile, showcased its remarkable prowess in transition, led by Bueckers orchestrating an 8-0 run.
The Terps struggled immensely in the third quarter, shooting a mere 2-for-14 and tallying just nine points — a season-low.
“We’ve got to find, you know, some additional players to be able to help us score the basketball,” Frese said. “But again, that was dictated by how hard they defended us.”
The fourth quarter encapsulated the essence of the game. The Terps appeared disorganized, managing a 2-for-5 shooting performance and committing four turnovers within the first five minutes.
“I mean, obviously the assist to turnover ratio [shows] that our chemistry isn’t there,” Frese said.
The Huskies persisted in trapping Maryland within its offensive plays, disrupting the Terps’ rhythm and consistently forcing them into contested shots.
The defeat pushed Maryland below the .500 mark, raising more early questions of the team’s ability to compete with the best squads in the nation.
“Obviously, nothing’s won in November,” Frese said. “It’s getting us prepared for conference play and beyond.”
Three things to know
1. Bueckers took over. No matter the defense the Terps threw at her, the 2021 national player of the year tore them apart. Even a brief benching due to an eye injury didn’t slow Bueckers down. She concluded the game with 24 points on a remarkable 66% shooting percentage and six steals.
2. UConn’s defense was smothering. Despite not having a substantial size advantage, the Huskies were dominant on defense. They had 25 combined blocks and steals, leveraging their intensity throughout.
3. More offensive struggles. Whether attempting shots from the perimeter or working within the paint, the Terps can’t seem to find their rhythm. They finished 6-of-23 from three-point range against the Huskies and scored just 18 paint points, a stark contrast to UConn’s 46.
“Every game is a lesson, and I feel like this is just another lesson,” said Jakia Brown-Turner. “It’s still early and I feel like we have time to get it right.”