Maryland women’s basketball struggled early to get out in front against James Madison, and needed some answers.
The Terps didn’t have to look for long, however, as Shyanne Sellers slowly started to take over, putting up 20 points in the first half alone.
She finished with one the best performances of her career, scoring a career-high 29 points to go along with eight rebounds and six assists. Her performance was paramount in helping the Terps cruise to a seventh straight victory, 78-55.
Sellers was also active on the defensive end, chipping in with two blocks and a steal. “I just really do care about this team,” said Sellers. “I feel it's easy to play for them when I care about them.”
Head coach Brenda Frese still believes that the team’s leading scorer has a lot of room to grow this season: “She’s just scratching the surface, which is pretty exciting.”
Outside of Sellers, Maryland wasn’t all that impressive on the offensive side of the floor, shooting 40.3 percent from the field. Bri McDaniel was the only other Terp to score in double-digits (15).
But where the Terps excelled against James Madison was on the defensive end. They won the turnover battle easily, scoring 22 points off 21 takeaways. James Madison also shot under 30 percent from the field, including 8-of-31 from three.
Maryland wore James Madison out as the game went on, outscoring the Dukes by at least six in each of the final three quarters.
The Terps came out of the gates ice cold, and the Dukes took advantage. Maryland needed five minutes to make its first field goal, which allowed the Dukes to storm out to a 9-0 advantage.
“I think that was indicative of eight days since we had last played,” Frese said.
But in the blink of an eye, the Terps woke up to the tune of an 11-0 run before the quarter became a back-and-forth battle.
To close out the first, Shyanne Sellers hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds to give Maryland a one point lead, and it wouldn’t trail the rest of the way.
A pair of early threes allowed James Madison to stay close, but thanks to Sellers, Maryland entered the halftime break with a seven-point lead. The Terps shot over 40 percent from the field in the second quarter.
Maryland expanded its lead to begin the second half as the Dukes found themselves in foul trouble. The Terps hovered around a double-digit advantage, and a buzzer-beating triple by Brinae Alexander extended the lead to 15 with 10 minutes to play.
James Madison’s Peyton McDaniel did her part in trying to bring the Dukes back into the game — scoring seven of her 25 points in the final frame — but Maryland continued to control the momentum and ballooned its advantage to 23 for a convincing win ahead of Big Ten play.
Three things to know
1. The Terps found success with a smaller rotation. Maryland was forced to play with a smaller rotation, as three players, including starter Jakia Brown-Turner, were out due to illness. In the first half, the Terps played only seven players, but kept everyone fresh with frequent substitutions.
2. Emily Fisher looked great again off the bench. Fisher didn’t get a lot of minutes to begin her freshman season, but has been taking advantage of more playing time recently. She had a career-high nine points and eight rebounds a week ago against Towson, and followed that up with six points, two assists and four rebounds against the Dukes.
3. Maryland ends nonconference play on a roll. Frese’s team started the season 2-3, with all three loses coming against ranked opponents. Since then, the Terps have been on a roll, winning seven straight games. They won five of those games by double-digits, as the Terps have used the non-conference slate to build chemistry before Big Ten play.
“Love these last seven wins that we’ve had in a row, taking care of business,” Frese said.