No. 14 Maryland women’s basketball entered Tuesday night wondering who would take charge on offense for the 2023-24 campaign. It left with a clear answer.
Junior guard Shyanne Sellers propelled the Terps all night long, recording 25 points in 32 minutes of action. Maryland never trailed in a 98-75 victory over Harvard.
“I thought [Sellers] commanded it really flawlessly tonight just with her ability to score as well as getting others involved,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “Love that unselfishness ... she just continues to keep growing and getting better and better.”
The Terps’ early ball movement led to some open looks, but the first four minutes of play were fraught with some tough misses around the rim, largely due to Harvard’s clogging of the paint.
The Terps (1-0) opened up the scoring roughly halfway through the first quarter, courtesy of two threes from Brinae Alexander and one from Sellers.
Maryland’s defense was relatively sound, holding the Crimson (0-1) to 5-of-17 shooting in the first quarter. The Terps out-rebounded them in the period, 15-8.
The biggest difference between the two teams lied in the speed and execution with which each played. Maryland’s hustle on defense resulted in Sellers and speedy guard Bri McDaniel recording two steals and one block within a two-minute span late in the opening frame.
Maryland’s fast-break offense allowed for players like Faith Masonius — who had four first- quarter assists — to take charge. The offense operated with a by-committee approach; no one demanded the ball each possession and the open player was consistently found.
Up 20 points in the second quarter, the Terps gave some of their more inexperienced players like freshmen Riley Nelson and Emily Fisher extended playing time.
The focus on both sides of the ball remained the same, and the team’s help defense operated smoothly. But with inexperienced players on the court, the Terps fell into a bit of a scoring slump. At one point, they went almost three minutes without a point.
“It’s a hard adjustment for freshmen coming in, especially when when you look at our roster with four grad seniors and the experience that we have,” Frese said. “But I thought they gave us some solid minutes.”
Moreover, they had some struggles on the defensive glass, with the Crimson grabbing nine first-half offensive boards.
“We’re gonna have to get that right. Clearly you’re not going to be able to give up that many boards against such an athletic and, you know, a team with with great size, so, definitely an area that we’re gonna have to improve on,” Frese said.
Ultimately, Maryland lost the second quarter, 23-21, but still headed into the locker room with a 52-34 lead.
The Terps began the third quarter with three turnovers, but quickly regained momentum with some effort plays on the offensive glass and an Alexander 3-pointer. She went 5-for-8 from distance on the evening.
“I think it was just about getting my feet back under me, getting more comfortable and more confident,” Alexander said.
There was a distinct change in the pace of play as the third quarter waned, with both teams drawing multiple shooting fouls. The Terps shot 6-for-6 from the line in the frame, while the Crimson made all four of their free throws.
Furthermore, Maryland’s defensive pressure forced Harvard’s players to take more contested looks. The Crimson shot 28.6% from the field in the third quarter, after going 2-for-11 from long range. Many of those attempts came at the end of the shot clock, though.
Although Maryland led 73-52 heading into the final frame, it didn’t slow down whatsoever. McDaniel continued to stack hustle plays, forcing a jump ball and physically finishing to maintain momentum.
As the quarter rolled on, Maryland fully seized control, at one point going 4-for-5 on field goals while simultaneously holding the Crimson to 0-for-8 shooting.
The Terps are now 84-5 over the last five seasons in games which they score 80 or more points.
“I thought we set the tone from from the tip,” Frese said. “I loved how we came out first half. I thought we really displayed our dominance.”
Three things to know
1. Sellers played with ease. Sellers put on a three-level scoring display, showing prowess from deep and when driving to the hoop. She finished the night with 25 points, four rebounds and seven assists, while shooting 7-for-11 from the field.
“I’m just going to elevate my game and not change it up too much,” Sellers said. “So I think that’s what I did ... obviously it was successful.”
2. Maryland’s ball movement was sublime. The Terps were an unselfish, motivated group Monday. Their perimeter ball movement and drive-and-kick action for corner threes resulted in 23 assists.
3. There’s plenty of room to grow. While Maryland’s inaugural performance of the 2023-24 season was largely encouraging, there were plenty of aspects for the Terps to clean up. From numerous fouls around the basket, to occasional rebounding woes to the team’s 19 turnovers, Maryland has ample room for improvement.