Maryland women’s basketball surged to a quick start against No. 23 Washington State, netting an impressive 31 points in the opening quarter. Yet, the early success turned out to be merely an outlier.
Across the subsequent three quarters, the Terps made 10 of their next 56 shots, faltering in all facets of the game. On the other hand, the Cougars were lights out in a 87-67 demolition of the Terps in the first game of the Cancun Challenge.
“I thought the experience and the waves [of scoring] that Washington State has just, you know, impacted us greatly,” head coach Brenda Frese said.
In the opening minutes, the Terps unleashed their midrange prowess, employing high pick-and-rolls to carve out valuable space for Lavender Briggs, Shyanne Sellers and Jakia Brown-Turner.
Allie Kubek’s inclusion in the starting lineup expanded the court, enticing the Cougars into the paint and paving the way for open 3-point shots.
The most notable performance early in the game came from Briggs, who had only averaged 5.5 points per game in Maryland’s initial three matchups. Her swift 12-point contribution within the opening five minutes Thursday displayed confidence and precision in her shooting.
“I took a couple of quick shots that had my legs underneath me. I was trying to get to the rim,” Briggs said.
The Terps’ commanding 31-20 lead at the end of the first quarter stemmed from their impressive 4-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc and 11 points generated off turnovers.
However, Washington State launched a quick comeback within the opening four minutes of the second quarter, spearheaded by a 10-2 run. While the Terps struggled, going 1-for-7 on field goals, the Cougars found their rhythm, shooting 4-for-6 from the field and 2-for-3 from three.
“I thought it was a lot of quick, rushed shots that we settled for,” Frese said. “A lot of set shots instead of, you know, moving the basketball or being able to drive to kick.”
The Terps’ lack of size inside once more reared its ugly head, evidenced by Washington State having an 8-2 rebounding advantage early in the quarter.
Faced with a drought in scoring, Maryland resorted to an aggressive paint-oriented offense. Although it drew some fouls, it was overwhelmed and blocked four times.
The Cougars outscored Maryland by 13 in the quarter, taking a two-point lead at the half.
Maryland displayed a sturdy defensive presence at the start of the third quarter, causing two early turnovers.
However, Maryland’s missed shots coupled with the Cougars’ sudden accuracy led to a slow divergence in the score. Charlisse Leger-Walker headlined Washington State’s impactful runs, consistently making astute decisions amidst heavy traffic. She finished with a triple-double.
After the initial two minutes of the frame, Maryland’s defensive pressure notably waned. It failed to unsettle the Cougars, resulting in defensive collapses in the paint and four 3-pointers.
“I think they were just driving and kicking,” Briggs said “They were getting into the middle of the paint and kicking out to open shooters ... we were collapsing, clogging [the paint].”
During the third quarter, the Cougars showcased their efficiency, shooting 11-for-18 and distributing 11 assists. In contrast, the Terps’ mere one assist underscored their struggle with perimeter ball movement and creating open scoring chances.
In the fourth quarter, the Terps failed to show any noticeable improvement. The Cougars’ fast-break opportunities made it challenging for Maryland to regain defensive positioning.
“They ran harder than us. It honestly just felt like they were working harder than us,” Briggs said. “They were passing the ball to each other. They were playing together for all 40 minutes.”
Having incurred three early losses, Frese now faces the task of seeking definitive solutions across all facets of the game.
“We took care of the basketball, but that chemistry piece is missing,” Frese said.
Three things to know
1. Lack of bench scoring loomed large. The Terps continue to grapple with deficiencies and inconsistencies in bench scoring. Bri McDaniel, a key player in the victory against Syracuse, managed only seven points in today’s loss.
Another impactful contributor from the bench remains elusive. Even Faith Masonius, who assumed a bench role today, was unable to tally a single point.
2. More second quarter issues. Against Syracuse, Maryland shot 4-for-20 from the field and missed all five 3-point attempts in the second quarter. Thursday, the Terps shot a dismal 15.8 percent in the second quarter, resulting in just nine points.
The poor performance ultimately set the tone for a lackluster showing throughout the rest of the contest.
3. Leger-Walker dominated. Washington State’s standout player lived up to the billing, securing a remarkable 11 point, 15 rebound and 13 assist triple-double. She executed the accomplishment effortlessly, displaying finesse by seamlessly executing numerous no-look feeds around the basket.