In its six-point win over No. 7 Louisville, No. 5 Maryland women’s basketball had to withstand a late push by the Cardinals.
With 3:20 left in the fourth quarter, Myisha Hines-Allen missed a jumper on the left block, but pulled down her own rebound. The defending ACC Player of the Year worked her way past both Brionna Jones and Kaila Charles for a layup, drawing a foul in the process.
She made the free throw, giving Louisville a 67-65 lead.
At that point, things didn’t look great for Maryland. The Terps started the fourth quarter with a 62-53 lead, but that was gone. The crowd of over 7,800 they had kept at bay for most of their night was on its feet. According to the announcers, it felt like it was mid-March, not early December.
Instead of letting the crowd get into their heads, the Terps calmly went on a 7-0 run to put away the game.
After the Hines-Allen free throw, Walker-Kimbrough found Jones on the right block. Dribble, spin move, layup. Tie game.
Then Walker-Kimbrough blocked Asia Durr on the other end, and Destiny Slocum found Charles in transition for a layup and a 69-67 lead. The freshman responded with her own block on the other end, and then Slocum converted an and-one. The three-point play gave Maryland a 72-67 lead, and the Terps would not trail again.
After cruising through the first five games, Maryland has responded well to being tested in its last two. Whenever the Terps seemed to struggle, they found a way to answer back.
Washington State came out hot in the first half Saturday, but Maryland kept feeding Jones, who finished with 20 points and 20 rebounds in a 10-point Terps win.
On Thursday, Louisville got out to an 18-9 lead with 3:36 remaining in the first quarter, forcing Brenda Frese to call a timeout. Maryland went to a 3-2 zone, and Louisville wasn’t able to get in a rhythm offensively for the rest of the game.
The Terps cut the lead to four by the end of the quarter, and then went on a 10-0 run in the second quarter to take a 30-26 lead. The lead grew to 10 in the third, and even when Louisville came back it wasn’t getting easy looks around the basket.
This team had lofty goals at the beginning of the season, and showed why with this performance. Not only was it a win on the road against a top-10 opponent, but it was against a team that draws one of the largest average home crowds in the country.
It wasn’t a game that Maryland led throughout, but one it had to fight its way back into and hold off Louisville late.
It was a game where Jones and Walker-Kimbrough did some heavy lifting, but didn’t have to completely carry the team over the final few minutes.
Although it was a solid win, Maryland may have gotten some help. Louisville shot just 4-for-23 on three-pointers, and made an atrocious 43 percent of its foul shots. The Cardinals aren’t a great rebounding team, but did a great job getting key offensive rebounds in the second half.
While Maryland should roll through its next few games, the team will definitely be motivated to keep getting better. In four weeks, instead of seeing mid-majors such as UMBC and Duquesne on the opposite sideline, it will be Geno Auriemma and the Connecticut Huskies coming to College Park.