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Maryland women’s basketball wins nail-biter over Virginia, 60-59

It came down to the final possession, but the Terps did just enough to escape with a win.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Maryland at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Maryland women’s basketball survived a flurry of late scares to take down Virginia, 60-59, as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday night.

The No. 15 Terps led most of the evening, but an 11-0 Virginia run spanning the third and fourth quarters changed the complexion of the game. The Cavaliers held a 58-57 lead for over three minutes before Kaila Charles’ layup gave Maryland a one-point lead with 40 seconds left. Each team hit one more free throw before a frantic finish, in which Virginia had three chances to win in the final five seconds.

Maryland survived despite scoring just nine points in the fourth quarter. When they were scoring, the Terps used a balanced attack. Charles and Stephanie Jones each finished with 13 points, while Kristen Confroy added 12 and Ieshia Small chipped in 10. Jones hauled in seven rebounds and the other three recorded six.

On Virginia’s “ugly sweater night,” Maryland’s on-court performance was in the spirit. The Terps shot 37 percent from the floor and 9-of-16 from the foul line and committed 18 turnovers to only six assists. Virginia, meanwhile, had 21 giveaways. Maryland won the rebounding battle, 38-36, but struggled to stop 6’9 center Felicia Aiyeotan down the stretch. The sophomore tallied 10 points, six boards and six blocks.

The Terps fell behind after allowing an early 10-2 run, but responded with a 10-3 run of their own. They’d exit the quarter with a 20-15 lead, with Jones and Charles (14 combined points) almost outscoring the Cavaliers as a duo. Neither team got much going in the second period, but a pair of three-pointers by Blair Watson and Confroy gave Maryland a 34-25 lead that it’d take into halftime.

The margin reached double-figures multiple times in the third quarter, but the Terps couldn’t pull any further away. At the end of the frame, Virginia went on a 6-0 run to slash the lead to 51-49 entering the fourth. The run continued at the start of the final frame, and a corner three by Aliyah Huland El gave the Cavaliers a 54-51 lead, their first advantage since the opening quarter.

Confroy ended the run with a game-tying three-pointer, and Jones’ fast-break layup reclaimed the lead a few minutes later. After Aiyeotan’s short jumper put the Cavaliers back in front, neither team scored for 3:17 until Charles’ layup put Maryland ahead for good. A Maryland inbound violation gave Virginia the ball down one in the final seconds, and despite several shots in a hectic last possession, none went down.

Maryland’s stretch of road games will continue Saturday when the Terps visit Akron. It’ll be a homecoming for Confroy, a native of Solon, Ohio.

Three things to know

1. Maryland stayed small most of the night. The Terps started what’s become their normal lineup—Channise Lewis, Confroy, Watson, Charles and Jones—and only played Brianna Fraser for three minutes. As a result, Aiyeotan had her way for much of the second half, and although it didn’t cost Maryland the game, it’s something interesting to monitor going forward.

2. The Terps went on a costly cold streak. Virginia’s 11-0 run turned an eight-point third-quarter deficit into a three-point fourth-quarter lead. Maryland would reclaim the advantage and ultimately win, but this was closer than it probably should have been.

3. Kaila Charles took over when it mattered most. Fourth-quarter outbursts are nothing new to the sophomore; she had 19 in the final period during the Terps’ charge against South Carolina. But this was Maryland’s first nail-biter of the season, and Charles got the buckets her team needed. The Terps will need plenty more of her clutch play as the season continues.