Maryland women’s basketball, playing its third game in as many days at the Cancun Challenge, raised curiosity as to whether it possessed the energy needed to secure a second straight victory.
The Terps not only accomplished that Saturday, but also dominated UMass in every aspect of the game. They secured a season-high 19 steals and received 39 points from their bench on the way to a decisive 92-63 win.
“I thought the mentality was right when we came out, you know, it was great to see Jakia [Brown-Turner] and Shy [Sellers] really get us going,” head coach Brenda Frese said.
Early in the contest, the Terps showcased commendable defense in the paint. Given UMass’s proclivity to attack the basket, Maryland strategically employed a zone defense. In doing so, it was granted superior rebounding positions and facilitated smoother transitions.
Brinae Alexander reaped the rewards of the Terps’ offense, sinking the team’s first two 3-pointers. Maryland’s aggressive play pressured the Minutewomen, leading to three fouls in the initial five minutes of play.
Maryland’s six assists in the first quarter also stood out. In recent games, assists were scarce, but the Terps displayed exceptional ball movement and spacing, particularly during drive-and-kick opportunities.
“We learned a lot from these past two games and we knew we needed to play together as a team,” Brown-Turner said. “We just tried to give each other the ball and just get one more pass in.”
Ultimately, the initial frame stood out as a fast-paced, back-and-forth affair, characterized by both teams capitalizing on fast-break opportunities.
The Terps began the second quarter sluggishly, but gained momentum swiftly when Sellers and Bri McDaniel assumed control of the offense. Their blend of craftiness and speed significantly enhanced the team’s scoring capabilities, securing baskets efficiently.
Meanwhile, UMass struggled to break free from its 3-point shooting slump. The Terps adeptly adjusted the Minutewomen’s strategy, frequently employing double teams and pressuring them into challenging decisions.
As UMass started adapting to the Terps’ drive-oriented offense, Maryland seamlessly transitioned to perimeter shooting. Led by Alexander and Faith Masonius, the team capitalized on opportunities, going 2-for-5 from beyond the arc in the second quarter to widen its lead.
The Terps cruised to a commanding 48-25 lead at halftime, boasting a field goal percentage of over 50 percent.
UMass initiated a rapid 7-2 run at the start of the second half, sinking a 3-pointer and capitalizing on two turnovers forced on Maryland.
Seeking to regain momentum, the Terps refocused on attacking the paint. Despite that, UMass remained competitive, finding its rhythm in 3-point shooting. The Minutewomen went 2-for-4 from beyond the arc in the quarter, whereas Maryland went a paltry 0-for-4.
As the final minutes ticked away, the Terps fielded a lineup comprised entirely of bench players, allowing Frese to evaluate her young talent extensively. Despite its impressive offensive performance, UMass was unable to outscore Maryland in the frame.
“I think we knew with UMass, it was going to be an opportunity that we could extend our bench a little bit more,” Frese said. “I think those first six games have been tough to be able to get them into the fold.”
Entering the fourth quarter, the game was decided, with the Terps holding a commanding 76-52 lead. Even still, the Terps remained relentless, opening the quarter 3-for-3 from the field and forcing two UMass turnovers within three minutes.
The commanding win propelled Maryland to a 4-3 record this season, instilling confidence in the squad.
“I thought we were a little bit more intentional of making a few more passes,” Frese said. “I think we’re growing with our offensive chemistry in these last two games.”
Three things to know
1. Brown-Turner stayed steady. With each passing day, Brown-Turner increasingly emerges as the crucial piece to solidifying this already well-rounded Terps team. Excelling in rebounding, defense and scoring, she showcases prowess across the board. Following an impressive double-double against Green Bay, Brown-Turner continued to shine, scoring 17 points Saturday on 7-of-9 shooting.
“My teammates and my coaches have a lot of confidence in me and they just told me to, you know, get out and run the floor,” Brown-Turner said.
2. Improvements in shooting. Despite it being their third game in as many days, the Terps displayed remarkable endurance. Overall, they shot 31-of-61 from the field. Additionally, their outstanding free-throw shooting should not go unnoticed, as they went 26-for-33 from the line.
3. Some new faces. Freshmen Hawa Doumbouya and Summer Bostock entered the game once Maryland built a substantial lead. Doumbouya made an impact in her six minutes, contributing two points, four rebounds and two assists, while Bostock’s 13 minutes provided the Terps with five points and five rebounds. Even walk-ons Mary Sareen and Zen Nuako graceed the court at the very end.