It looked grim for Maryland women’s basketball at halftime. Down by nine points, it had seemingly no answer for George Mason’s red-hot 3-point shooting and its own lack of offensive production.
However, the second half illustrated a comprehensive beatdown by the Terps, as they battled back to earn a decisive 86-77 victory on Sunday.
“We knew George Mason was going to come in really confident and ready to play,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “I loved how we responded coming out of the locker room [in] the second half. That’s who we are.”
Part of Maryland’s early struggles can be attributed to getting itself in foul trouble. Brinae Alexander’s two personal fouls within the first three minutes of the game sent her to the bench. That drastically limited Maryland’s floor spacing and shooting abilities, and with Emily Fisher and Faith Masonius inserted into the game, the Terps struggled to move the ball effectively and find open cutters under the hoop.
“Just spreading out the floor, kind of had to change our mindset on offense. We had to drive and kick to get more flow,” Masonius said.
Toward the end of the initial frame, George Mason began to heat up from beyond the arc. It made three triples within the span of just over a minute, which gave the Patriots a 21-14 lead.
The first five minutes of the second quarter did not show much improvement from the Terps, who committed five turnovers and made just five field goals.
“I felt like George Mason did a good job in first half making us work the entire shot clock,” Terps guard Shyanne Sellers said. “We needed to know when to be able to take those quick shots and then when we needed to slow down the game on offense.”
On the other hand, George Mason’s communication on the fast break was sublime. Its shooters spread the 3-point line extremely well, allowing for ample drive-and-kick opportunities. It went 3-for-5 on 3-pointers in the period.
The Terps found themselves in a nine-point halftime deficit.
Starting the third frame out with energy and conviction, Maryland slowly began to creep back into the game. Alexander was back in the fold and hit a crucial three, and the team stymied the Patriots’ second-chance opportunities.
“Our effort and our energy went up,” Frese said. “I thought we were a lot more locked in on the defensive end.”
Maryland’s veterans came alive in the frame, with Sellers, Masonius and Alexander combining for 18 of the Terps’ 26 points.
But it came at the cost of Bri McDaniel. One of Maryland’s emotional leaders and tone setters, she limped off to the locker room and did not return.
Maryland’s defense was also commendable, forcing eight turnover and holding the Patriots to just 12 points.
Ahead by five heading into the final quarter of play, Maryland needed to replicate its third-quarter success to secure the victory, and Sellers took over.
“[Sellers] sets a tone for us,” Frese said. “Credit to her, she put her head down and started being really aggressive.”
The junior guard put up 15 points in the final 10 minutes, part of her career-high 28 point performance. She also contributed 13 rebounds and five assists.
Three things to know
1. Maryland’s defense determined the outcome. The Terps’ defense was opportunistic. They allowed the occasional 3-pointer, but limited the Patriots to just 11 second-chance points, nabbing 28 defensive rebounds. The Terps also forced 20 turnovers, which produced easy transition opportunities.
2. A resilient second half. Akin to it matchup against Green Bay, Maryland had to battle its way back into the game. And once Maryland secured the lead, it never looked back. In the second half, the Terps outscored the Patriots, 53-35.
3. The win streak stays alive. The Terps have now won four straight contests. What remains most impressive about Sunday’s victory was the team’s ability to score despite shooting 26.7% from three.