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Maryland women’s basketball comes up short at Michigan, 71-65, for 3rd straight loss

The Terps’ late-season drought continues.

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

Taking a lead was a Sisyphean task for Maryland women’s basketball Thursday night. The Terps tied the game or trailed by one possession countless times, but fell to Michigan, 71-65.

Maryland is now 22-6 and 11-4 in the Big Ten, and has lost three straight games for the first time since 2014.

Kaila Charles scored two of her game-high 27 points to cut the lead to 60-59 with 3:27 left, but Katelynn Flaherty hit her third three of the game to push the Wolverines’ lead back to four. Akienreh Johnson hit another huge three with 1:27 left to push the lead to five after two free throws from Brianna Fraser.

While Michigan hit two huge threes late and went 6-of-10 for the game, Maryland didn’t hit one the entire game. The Terps went 0-for-9 from beyond the arc, and have shot 9-for-33 on three-pointers during the losing streak.

Maryland did a good job keeping Flaherty and Hallie Thome in check, which is usually a recipe for success against Michigan. Flaherty scored 17 points on 4-of-14 shooting, and Thome scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, but was never able to take over the game.

With Flaherty and Thome contained for the most part, the Wolverines role players had huge games. Johnson matched Flaherty’s team high 17 points, and added eight rebounds and three assists. Nicole Munger, who is usually a three-point specialist, finished with 15 points and missed just one shot from the field.

Munger hit a three to open the scoring in the first quarter, giving Michigan a lead it never give back. The Wolverines shot 61.5 percent in the first quarter, and got into Maryland’s passing lanes and scored nine points off five Terrapin turnovers. Maryland also went cold to end the quarter, allowing Michigan to go on an 8-0 run and push the lead to 21-10 before Stephanie Jones hit two free throws with four seconds left in the opening frame. The Terps started to will their back into the game in the second quarter, and it started on the defensive end.

Maryland forced seven turnovers in the second quarter, and scored 10 of its 21 second quarter points off Michigan’s mistakes. It also stopped settling for as many midrange jumpers, as Charles and Jones went to work down low. The Terps cut the lead to one at one point, and trailed 35-33 at halftime.

Thome had an easy layup to start the second half, but Charles responded with the jumper and Jones picked off a pass and found Charles in transition to tie the game. But like the second quarter, Maryland still couldn’t take the lead. The Terps couldn’t capitalize on stops on defense, and Michigan always seemed to answer with a well-time bucket.

The Wolverines finally got some separation in the beginning of the fourth quarter, building the lead to seven with 7:25 to go. Like every other time Michigan started to build separation, Maryland fought back and couldn’t take the lead. The Terps scored the next six points, but the teams traded baskets on the next two baskets to keep it a one-point game. That was the closest Maryland would get, as Michigan hit big shots and free throws late to seal the upset.

The Terps have already clinched a double bye in the Big Ten tournament, but will need an Ohio State loss to Penn State on Sunday to clinch a share of the regular season title.

Three things to know

  1. This was a back and forth game, but Maryland came up short. After Michigan built a 12-point lead in the second quarter, the Wolverines never led by more than seven following a Maryland run. The Terps had multiple chances to take the lead and could never capitalize.
  2. Michigan’s role players came up big. Flaherty and Thome did not have great games, but the Wolverines got big contributions from some unlikely names. Johnson averaged 3.2 points a game coming into this one and finished with 17, and Munger scored 15 points.
  3. Sarah Myers got more playing time again. For the first time in a long time, the sophomore played more minutes than freshman point guard Channise Lewis. She played 22 minutes compared to Lewis’ 17, and Myers finished with two points and four assists.