Maryland women’s basketball held a commanding 15-point halftime lead. It was in complete control of Wednesday’s game.
But Michigan had other plans.
The Wolverines mounted a second-half comeback, eventually tying the score. In overtime, a back-and-forth battle ended with two Michigan free throws with no time left on the clock. Both of which were true, delivering Maryland a shock 79-77 defeat.
“I thought Michigan just played much more poised and [with] a lot more composure,” said head coach Brenda Frese.
The visiting Terps initiated the game with an 11-2 run, capitalizing on numerous Michigan turnovers and two 3-pointers. Despite the Wolverines missing some easy open looks, including a wide-open corner three and a simple layup, they managed to push back against Maryland’s attempts to pull away.
Michigan hit a crucial 3-pointer and secured three timely offensive boards in the subsequent minutes, showcasing its exceptional size, which Maryland combated by deploying a 2-3 zone defense.
Ending the first quarter with a boost of offense, Maryland out-rebounded Michigan 10-7 in the frame and scored 14 points in the paint. But, some late sloppy play and forced turnovers by the Wolverines prevented Maryland’s six-point lead from extending further.
“I was really pleased with the first half,” Frese said. “We punched first, we were the more aggressive team on the glass.”
The start of the second quarter was slow for both teams. Michigan still struggled with turnovers, committing five in under three minutes. Maryland capitalized on this, quickly scoring six points off turnovers with Shyanne Sellers pushing the pace.
Eventually, the Terps widened their lead, thanks to Sellers’ smooth operation of the offense and minimal mistakes. Despite a few consecutive offensive fouls, Maryland executed exceptionally well, shooting 9-for-14 from the field in the frame and 3-for-5 from three.
But the third quarter is where the game began to flip. It started with the Wolverines embarking on a 5-1 run, hitting a quick threes and navigating through the paint. In contrast, Maryland, which had dominated the offensive paint in the first half, faced challenges as Michigan tightened its interior coverage.
“They’re a competitive team,” Frese said. “They’re well coached and they’re very physical...so we really wanted to come out like we were down 10. It didn’t show.”
Despite the Terps briefly regaining momentum after a timeout, the Wolverines continued to surge. This time, it was a 5-0 run that narrowed the Terps’ lead to just five points, with a wide-open three contributing to a comeback attempt.
The Terps took an eight-point lead into the final frame, but the Wolverines started the fourth quarter with a 4-0 run, narrowing Maryland’s lead to just four points.
Michigan went on to tie the game late with some stellar play, bringing the game into overtime. In the extra period, the game came down to the final play. After Maryland turned the ball over with a chance to take the lead, a blocking foul on Faith Masonius sent Michigan to the line to seal the deal, where it did.
“It’s disappointing to give up a 15-point lead when you’re on the road to come out with a loss,” Frese said.
Three things to know
1. Maryland collapsed. A 15-point halftime lead turned into a tie game at the end of regulation. And in the extra period — which was highly contested — Michigan prevailed.
2. Bri McDaniel was ejected. During the Terps’ third-quarter slump, McDaniel found herself in a tussle with Michigan guard Lauren Hansen. Both players were ejected from the game, leaving Maryland with deep challenges considering its already slim guard depth.
With Sellers and McDaniel out of the game, ball-handlers were scarce, and fatigue began to set in for the Terps as the game waned on.
3. Maryland’s in dangerous territory. The Terps are now in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten. They are no longer competing for one of the top spots in the conference, about to enter the toughest portion of their schedule.
Maryland needs to find some answers soon if it plans on making the NCAA Tournament.