Maryland women’s basketball avenged its only loss in conference play so far this season, defeating Michigan State, 76-68.
It was a balanced effort for the Terps, with five players scoring in double figures. Kaila Charles had 19 points and 11 rebounds for her eighth double-double of the season, and Stephanie Jones and Kristen Confroy each scored 14 points. Eleanna Christinaki and Channise Lewis both finished with 11 points, while Ieshia Small added 10.
Though Maryland worked hard to push the tempo when possible early, Michigan State’s physicality seemed to wear the Terps down late. The rebounding battle was even most of the way, with the Spartans prevailing, 40-37.
The Terps also made some uncharacteristic mistakes in the fourth quarter, missing easy shots, committing some questionable turnovers and allowing easy looks for Michigan State. While Maryland held Taryn McCutcheon to just eight points, including none of the second half, it struggled to stop Victoria Gaines, who scored 16 of the bench.
With both teams having an even matchup physically, the difference was turnovers. Michigan State committed 20, and Maryland was able to take advantage and score off them with fastbreak opportunities. The Terps had 14 fastbreak points in the game, including 12 in the first half. Maryland’s 16 turnovers resulted in 18 Michigan State points, but the Spartans only scored nine in transition.
Maryland got off to another hot start on the road using the same formula: strong defense and a steady dose of Charles. Michigan State shot 3-of-16 to start the game and had no answer for Charles, who had six points. Christinaki and Confroy hit threes as well, and the Terps jumped out to a 17-7 lead. The Spartans responded, closing out the quarter with an 8-0 run. McCutcheon, who had a career-high 25 in the teams’ first meeting, hit back-to-back threes, including one from NBA range as time expired.
Michigan State’s run continued into the second quarter, as Gaines hit a three to give the Spartans an 18-17 lead. Maryland responded with an 8-0 run, and Charles hit two more buckets during the run to hit 10 in just 14 minutes, which was more than she scored in 32 minutes in the previous matchup. However, she picked up her second foul with 5:23 to go.
It took Maryland a possession or two to get used to not having its star player on the floor, but the Terps settled down and built a 34-24 lead with 2:02 to go in the second quarter. Like the first quarter, Michigan State responded and cut the lead to five, but a floater from Small gave Maryland a seven-point lead heading into the locker room.
In the third quarter, the Terps put some extended separation between themselves and the home team for the first time in over a month. Jones hit two free throws to give Maryland a 12-point lead, its largest at the time, and after Tara Reimer hit a jumper, the Terps answered, going on another run to extend the lead to 54-35. The Spartans got a little life to end the third quarter, as Branndais Agee scored four points in three seconds to cut Maryland’s lead to 61-45 heading into the final frame.
That spark gave Michigan State some energy to start the fourth quarter. It scored the first seven points of the quarter to cut the Terps’ lead to nine. A three by Agee cut the lead to five with 35 seconds to go, but Maryland hit its free throws down the stretch to clinch its sixth straight win.
The Terps are 21-3 and 10-1 in Big Ten play, and return to the court Sunday at Rutgers.
Three things to know
- Maryland grinded out another road win. For the first time in over a month, it looked like the Terps would get another comfortable road win. Michigan State didn’t quit after going down 19 late in the third quarter, and Maryland had to hit its free throws to clinch the win.
- This was a physical game. Both teams played tough defense most of the game, and fought for every rebound. This made for an ugly product on the court at times, but Maryland certainly earned a hard fought win tonight.
- Christinaki can do a little of everything. The junior shot an ugly 4-of-16 from the field, but that didn’t stop her from impacting the game in other ways. She also finished with nine rebounds, four assists, and five steals, which means she can stay on the floor and can contribute when her shots aren’t falling.