No. 8 Maryland women’s basketball was clinging onto a 64-61 lead with 16 seconds remaining, and Michigan State was set to inbound the ball.
Spartans guard DeeDee Hagemann had a look for a game-tying 3-pointer, which was off the mark. Maryland senior guard/forward Faith Masonius hit the game-icing free throws, and the Terps escaped with a 66-61 victory at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan, on Saturday.
Maryland senior guard Diamond Miller led all scorers with 29 points, as the Terps extended their winning streak to four. Maryland moved to 13-3 in Big Ten play and achieved 10 road wins for the first time since the 2018-19 season.
“I think obviously we’re disappointed in the play tonight. I will say sometimes when you can find a way to win, it’s also a lens especially in a really emotional game for both teams,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “We were able to secure a double-bye, which was our first goal as we continue to move forward. We’re going to have to play a lot better and we’re gonna have to finish out games. 20 to 12 is not the quarter that we want to have to finish games.”
Maryland and Michigan State struggled to generate offense through the first two minutes of play with a mere combined point.
With fewer than seven minutes remaining in the opening quarter, Maryland senior guard Elisa Pinzan launched a full-court pass to Masonius. The latter used one dribble before a nifty spin to finish a layup despite being fouled. The Terps took an early 3-0 lead.
A few minutes later and the game even at five, Maryland senior guard Abby Meyers dribbled hard in transition before finding Miller for an easy layup.
Michigan State proceeded to go on a 7-0 run, led by two free throws and a 3-pointer by senior guard Moira Joiner.
The Terps trailed 14-9 after the opening 10 minutes, recording a 3-for-15 performance from the field. Miller scored five of the Terps’ first-quarter points as the others struggled to add to the scoring bunch.
However, Maryland responded differently in the second quarter and let it be known from its first possession. Senior guard Brinae Alexander drained two free throws after drawing contact on an aggressive drive to the rim, and a couple possessions later, Meyers maneuvered her way into the lane for a layup to cap off a 7-2 run for Maryland and tie the game at 16.
Prior to the second-quarter media timeout, Hagemann drilled a 3-pointer to give the Spartans a 20-16 advantage.
Miller began to impose her will on the interior defense of Michigan State. After leading her own 5-0 run, Maryland’s offense began to click. With under two minutes left in the first half, versatile forward Faith Masonius’ 3-pointer and layup gave Maryland a 27-26 heading into halftime.
The Terps’ duo of Miller and Masonius combined for 20 points to try and combat a slow start on the road, while Maryland’s defense took center stage in limiting Michigan State to a 3-for-13 showing from the field along with forcing five turnovers in the second quarter.
The second half started with Miller looking to create instant offense for herself and her teammates.
After a pair of buckets by Miller, she secured a defensive rebound and dribbled up the left sideline. Miller found senior guard Lavender Briggs for a layup in transition to extend Maryland’s advantage to 36-29.
On the ensuing possession, Meyers capped off a 13-3 run with a four-point play following a foul on a corner 3-pointer. The Terps extended their lead to 10.
About halfway through the third quarter, Michigan State guard Matilda Ekh drilled a 3-pointer to trim its deficit to 40-34.
Maryland’s offense would increase its intensity, which paid dividends to its execution. The Terps marched on a 11-4 run after a pair of threes by Meyers and senior guard Brinae Alexander.
A 3-pointer by Michigan State guard Julia Ayrault trimmed Maryland’s lead to 54-41 heading into the final quarter of play.
The Spartans started the fourth quarter on a 7-2 run with five coming from Ekh.
“They are strong [and] they’re resilient. They did not stop. They didn’t care what the score was. They played the same way the whole time, which is something we need to do. But I think overall, they attacked us and they were not afraid of us today,” Miller said.
With under three minutes left in the game, Miller finished a bucket in the lane despite being fouled. The 6-foot-3 guard converted the three-point play to extend Maryland’s lead to 63-54.
With a minute in regulation, Michigan State responded with a pair of 3-pointers by Ayrault to cut its deficit to 63-61.
Meyers was fouled with 22 seconds left, going just 1-of-2 from the charity stripe and leaving the door open for the Spartans. Hagemann’s game-tying chance was off, though, and the Terps closed out an important road victory.
Maryland returns to College Park on Tuesday night for a showdown with Caitlin Clark and No. 7 Iowa.
Three things to know
1. Maryland picked up its 10th road victory for the first time since 2018-19. The Terps once again got off to a slow start, but recovered in the second quarter to create a clear line of separation between the pair of Big Ten teams. After dominating the third quarter by a 27-15 margin, Maryland struggled to put away Michigan State, as the game was within one possession late into the fourth quarter. The Terps have been sensational on the road, suffering just two losses – both to top-six teams at the time.
2. Defensive second quarter. After being limited to just nine first-quarter points, Maryland flipped the script in the second frame. The Terps regained control by holding the Spartans to just 12 second-quarter points. Michigan State shot 23.1% from the field and 1-for-6 from the field in the second quarter.
3. A Tuesday night showdown is up next. Maryland’s slow start was its Achilles’ heel in its 96-82 loss to Iowa on Feb. 2. Big Ten Player of the Year favorite Caitlin Clark torched the defense to the tune of 42 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. The Terps couldn’t record consistent defensive stops in Iowa, but now the rematch shifts to College Park. Maryland is 10-2 at XFINITY Center and will look to take down its sixth top-25 opponent this season.