No. 20 Maryland women’s basketball narrowly dodged a third consecutive defeat Sunday, escaping a narrow game against Syracuse with an 83-81 victory.
Here are some takeaways from the game.
A second quarter to forget
Maryland couldn’t do much of anything in the second quarter, scoring a mere 11 points. It went 4-for-20 from the field and made none of its five 3-point attempts.
“I thought, in the second quarter, we looked very fatigued and we were settling for way too many threes and set shots,” Terps head coach Brenda Frese said.
Maryland faced significant challenges in establishing a consistent source of offense, with Shyanne Sellers scoring just three of her 19 points, all of which came from a last-second and-one bucket.
Attempting to bolster their struggling paint production, the Terps introduced 6-foot-7 freshman Hawa Doumbouya into the game. Although her single basket following an offensive rebound showcased her potential, defensive lapses outweighed her positives.
On the other side, Syracuse spaced the floor and found success both inside and from mid-range. The Orange’s agility caught the Terps off guard defensively, resulting in a 20-point onslaught.
Bri McDaniel was a spark plug
Since her arrival on campus, McDaniel has been a driving force of energy. She brings a rare combination of quickness, grit and unwavering toughness, qualities the team desperately needed Sunday.
Although not always reflected in the box score, McDaniel’s impact reverberated on both ends of the floor. She shouldered the demanding task of containing Syracuse’s top scorer, Dyaisha Fair, who entered the game averaging 20 points per game. McDaniel matched her stride for stride, limiting the graduate student to just 14 points.
Moreover, McDaniel showcased relentless hustle, diving out of bounds to salvage possessions and contributing to a full-court press. Offensively, she adeptly assumed the point guard role, consistently making smart decisions.
“I thought Bri — getting her in there at the top of the press — was huge,” Frese said.
Her stat line for the day finished at 12 points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals. Notably, she deflected a crucial pass on the final play, sealing the victory.
“Coming in ready to, like, disrupt, be the person that the team depends on,” McDaniel said. “I wanted to make a play and made it.”
Maryland closed out a slim victory
When the Terps sought a fourth-quarter surge, Sellers kickstarted the momentum with the team’s initial four points.
Subsequently, Maryland exhibited an offensive tenacity rarely seen in its preceding two games. Despite occasional missed shots, it was fueled by a blistering press and second-chance points.
“For us to out-rebound them and to get those other offensive boards today … gives you extra opportunities on the offensive end to make plays,” Frese said.
A crucial 10-1 run was spearheaded by Allie Kubek, who finished with a team-high 23 points in 29 minutes.
Most notably, Maryland’s fourth-quarter performance was also marked by an inclination for driving to the basket, which forced fouls from the Orange. Maryland made all six of its free throws in the period.
Maryland missed its lone three-point attempt in the quarter. Yet, it showcased fundamental solidity, securing 10 rebounds while committing only three turnovers.
While the final minute unfolded with heightened drama, Maryland’s stifling final defensive possession, in which Syracuse couldn’t even get a shot up, epitomized the energy shown late.
“I thought we were hard to guard, especially in the second half,” Frese said. “Really getting to the free-throw line … I think that’s what exposed them.”