Maryland women’s basketball advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 77-64 win over Arizona on Sunday.
Maryland’s prerogative this season has been to have quick starts and punch first. Make that right hook, jab, uppercut, whatever they want to call it, stick. Its goal has been to make its opponents feel it and get them flustered early.
Early turnovers and lead trims
Neither team kept control of the ball particularly well in the first quarter, as a combined 13 turnovers were committed. While Maryland got some good looks and knocked down shots toward the beginning of the quarter, it got a tad sloppy after that. Arizona did too and was held to just eight points through 10 minutes. It was the 10th time Maryland held an opponent to single-digit scoring in a quarter.
When sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers checked out with two fouls, Maryland wasn’t throwing the offensive or defensive punches it was during the first quarter. Senior forward Faith Masonius was running the point at times — not what Maryland would want to happen in that situation. Arizona took advantage of that by feeding the ball to Cate Reese down low, where she was met with many different mismatches.
“I thought they put a lot of bodies, and then we didn’t hit shots or drive it after skip passes or drive it baseline, we would go back to the middle,” Arizona head coach Adia Barnes said. “So there’s challenges for us. I think when we have more of a defensive lineup then that’s really a lot of congestion in the paint. When we have more of an offensive lineup in, we have tougher matchups against Diamond [Miller] and Sellers and that’s just the challenges of our team we have to work through.”
Sellers’ absence created a brief void
The first possession of the game resulted in a block for Sellers along the left baseline. As the game progressed, those blocks became more frequent and echoed a defensive mindset that Sellers has prioritized throughout the year.
What started out as a strong game for her shifted when she checked out of the game with her second foul with 7:49 left in the second quarter. Arizona trimmed the lead and eventually jumped ahead after buckets from Reese and Paris Clark shortly after. Sellers checked back into the game with a minute left in the second quarter and assisted one of Maryland’s final buckets of the first half.
“Losing Shy there was huge in that second quarter,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “But credit her. I thought that last 90 seconds after the time-out, she stayed aggressive and allowed us to go in at halftime just with a one-point game.”
Arizona scored 25 points in the second quarter and took advantage of the holes in Maryland’s defense. Sellers picked up her third with 1:53 in the third quarter and exited to the bench.
She finished the game with 15 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Maryland needed Diamond Miller in the worst way
Miller flexed her arms after getting a layup to fall two minutes into the third quarter. Abby Meyers had just picked up her second foul, changing the Terps’ strategy a bit. Miller followed that up by knocking down a 3-pointer and extending Maryland’s third-quarter-opening run to 7-0.
That blossomed into Miller scoring 13 in the third quarter on 6-for-6 shooting from the field.
Maryland went up eight after going on an 8-2 run to start the third quarter. After a slow first half for Miller, she was able to finish likely her last game at XFINITY Center with 24 points on 9-of-10 shooting in the second half.
She had a nifty finger roll with just over four minutes remaining, and it solidified a massive momentum shift in Maryland’s favor, seeing it go up nearly 20 points on multiple occasions.
“It was Miller time,” Frese said coming into the third quarter.
Miller drew a lot of motivation from teammate Faith Masonius, who was saying she needed to hit her shots.
“I was just missing layups and even Faith was like, ‘Come on Diamond, you’ve got to make that.’ It was just like, ‘I do got to make that,’” Miller said. “We realize our defense in the second quarter dropped and that was probably mainly because we were not scoring.”