Maryland women’s basketball faltered on the road at Michigan State, dropping its contest to the Spartans, 74-69.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
Concerning troubles on offense
When the Terps find their rhythm on offense, they’ve proven nearly unstoppable.
However, in Tuesday night’s game — especially early on — Maryland exhibited concerning signs of an offense that might not be fully developed.
Despite entering the bonus early in the first quarter, Maryland’s execution was disjointed and inconsistent. The Terps struggled in the first half, only managing to score 29 points. So, what prevented a team averaging 80.9 points per game from performing?
One prominent issue is an occasional overeagerness in transition. While Bri McDaniel and others embrace physicality, it can constrain the fluidity of the offense. For instance, Maryland had six turnovers in the first quarter and a total of nine in the first half, many occurring during rushed transition plays.
However, a slower, more deliberate offensive approach hasn’t proven to be the definitive solution either. The Terps experienced multiple scoring droughts of four or more minutes in the first half while simultaneously allowing several scoring runs by Michigan State. They also missed a number of point-blank opportunities, whether it be open layups or jump shots.
“I thought we came out flat,” said head coach Brenda Frese.
McDaniel pushed the pace
Every few games, McDaniel emerges as the driving force propelling the Terps forward like an energizer. Despite the loss, she delivered a sensational performance on both ends of the court.
In the early stages of the game, McDaniel stepped up when the rest of the team struggled to find its shot, taking charge without being selfish. During the opening frame, she attempted only one field goal but consistently drew fouls while pushing the ball in transition. This effort resulted in six points from free throws, helping the Terps enter the bonus midway through the quarter.
“It was just a conscious decision to get going early,” McDaniel said. “We put an emphasis on driving hard ... so that was really my main focus, and just trying to get everybody else the ball.”
Defensively, she proved to be a game-changer, recording a team-high three steals and securing eight rebounds. Her relentless pursuit on the defensive glass was evident, notably in a prolonged battle for a loose ball after a missed shot that she fiercely wrestled away from her opponent.
Ultimately, McDaniel achieved a career high of 20 points on 6-for-14 shooting. In the fourth quarter, she took on a significant role as the primary ball-handler, rather than Sellers, who efficiently contributed 23 points. McDaniel’s quick decision-making, drives to the basket, and adept passes into the paint positioned the Terps for a chance to win the game.
The game was a compelling and fiercely competitive contest, witnessing multiple lead changes and ties throughout. The fourth quarter was particularly gripping, needing the entire 10 minutes to determine the winner.
Fifty-four combined fourth-quarter points surpassed the 52 points the two teams collectively tallied in the entire first half. This surge in scoring was partly due to the intense free-throw battle that often unfolds in contested games. In this period, both teams combined for 23 free throws, with only two missed attempts.
Despite the tense battle, the Terps struggled to fully narrow the gap, primarily because they sank just one of their four attempted 3-pointers, while Michigan State found success from beyond the arc, converting four of its eight attempts.
However, interior defense was also lacking, with just seven rebounds secured by the Terps in the final quarter and a total of 32 throughout the game. In addition, while Maryland’s zone defense can be effective against teams lacking shooting proficiency, it also has vulnerabilities, evident in Michigan State’s drive-and-kick offense that exploited gaps in the Terps’ defensive strategy.
“They caught us scrambling all night, just with their play going downhill to the backdoor cuts, and they share the basketball really well,” Frese said. “I thought we did a really good job for the first 20 minutes and we lost our poise.”