Maryland women’s basketball was undefeated when leading at halftime entering Tuesday night’s game at Michigan State. It led by seven points at the break.
That trend came to a screeching halt against the Spartans, though, as Michigan State shot over 50% from the field in the second half and the Terps floundered down the stretch to drop their second game in their last three, 74-69.
“First half we started out high energy,” Maryland guard Shyanne Sellers said. “Third quarter we came out flat.”
Maryland struggled to string together stops to finish the game. After giving up the lead with just over seven minutes remaining, the Terps weren’t able to retake it thereafter. The Spartans didn’t miss a field goal in the final three minutes.
It was far from a clean contest, with four Spartans finishing with four fouls. Maryland was able to capitalize with free throws, going 22-for-23 from the line, but when it turned into a fouling contest late, Michigan State put the game away by making 10 of its 12 on fourth-quarter free-throw attempts.
The Spartans were led by Moira Joiner and Julia Ayrault, both of whom scored 20 points; Ayrault grabbed 10 rebounds as well. Sellers led all scorers with 23 points, while teammate Bri McDaniel had 20 points in one of her best performances of the season.
The Terps found themselves in a battle from the opening tip. The Spartans went on a 9-0 run midway through the first quarter, but the Terps responded with a 7-0 run, capped by a Brinae Alexander three-pointer, to retake the lead in the closing seconds of the period.
McDaniel tallied eight points and three steals in the first 15 minutes but exited after a hard fall with five minutes left in the first half. Despite McDaniel’s exit — she later returned — and the Spartans tying up the game, Maryland turned up the intensity on the defensive end, holding Michigan State scoreless for nearly four minutes to end the first half.
Head coach Brenda Frese’s Terps began contesting virtually every attempt by the Spartans, taking a seven-point lead into the halftime break.
But Michigan State looked like a different team in the third quarter. The Spartans shot 57.1% from the floor in the period and limited the Terps to just 35.3% shooting in that span, storming back to take a three-point lead into the fourth quarter.
“It’s an area for us that we’ve really got to be able to grow and be able to push through that fatigue,” Frese said of her team’s slow second-half start.
“We gotta come together and be one,” McDaniel added. “Not one, two, three, four, five. It’s got to be one.”
Michigan State put the game away in the fourth quarter, handing Maryland its second road loss against a Big Ten opponent this season.
Three things to know
1. Michigan State heated up. The Spartans came into Tuesday as the third-best 3-point shooting team in the Big Ten (38.2%), but shot just 13% from behind the arc in the first half. In the fourth quarter, though, they came alive, going 4-for-8 from three.
2. McDaniel shined. McDaniel scored a career-high 20 points on 6-for-14 shooting from the field, also accounting for eight rebounds and three steals before fouling out in the closing seconds.
3. A shaky start to conference play. All but one of Maryland’s conference games so far have been on the road, and the Terps are 1-2 in those matchups. Maryland will have a chance to bounce back, though, playing its next three games at home.
“Yeah, it’ll be great to sleep in our own beds,” Frese said. “But, you know, there’s things that we still have to, you know, be able to get a lot more consistent.”