RALEIGH, N.C. — Maryland women’s basketball’s season is over. The Terps didn’t have enough to beat NC State, losing to the No. 4-seed Wolfpack, 74-60, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday afternoon.
Maryland transfer and current NC State guard Kiara Leslie was the star of the show, finishing with a game-high 21 points and 11 rebounds. The redshirt junior also played lockdown defense on Kaila Charles, who finished with just four points on 2-of-8 shooting and fouled out.
Charles wasn’t the only one to struggle, as No. 5-seed Maryland shot just 37 percent from the field. The Terps struggled to get on a flow on offense and went 0-for-4 on three-point attempts, with Kristen Confroy not able to get off a shot from beyond the arc.
When Maryland had success on offense it came from the post, Brianna Fraser had a team-high 17 points and five rebounds off the bench, and Stephanie Jones finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. While Jones and Fraser combined to shot 13-of-20 the field, the rest of the team shot just 9-of-29. Ieshia Small had 13 points on 4-of-16 shooting, and Christinaki scored five on 1-of-8 shooting.
NC State shot 44 percent from the field but went 7-of-14 on three-point attempts, with three coming on a crucial run in the third quarter.
Maryland had about as poor a quarter on offense as it’s had all year to start the game. NC State’s defense gave Maryland no easy looks, and the Terps struggled to attack inside and free up open shooters around the perimeter. The Wolfpack did the opposite, shooting 50 percent by attacking inside, hitting midrange jumpers and both their three-point attempts. After shooting 20 percent in the opening frame, Maryland seemed lucky to trail just 18-11.
Small picked off an inbounds pass and took it all the way for a layup to start the second quarter, but that only briefly stopped the bleeding. The Wolfpack’s Chelsea Nelson scored on the ensuing possession and was fouled by Charles, who picked up her second personal. Then on Maryland’s next two possessions, Leslie picked Christinaki’s pocket and went coast-to-coast to extend NC State’s lead to 24-13.
Brenda Frese called timeout to stop the bleeding, and Maryland looked like a different team afterwards. With Aislinn Konig sticking on Confroy like Gorilla Glue, the Terps started to attack inside. Brianna Fraser had her way with Akela Maize, scoring eight of Maryland’s next 12 points. The Terps also stepped up on the defensive end, forcing five straight turnovers and holding NC State without a field goal for over five minutes to cut the lead down to three. Although NC State led 32-26 at halftime, it felt much closer than the seven-point lead after the first quarter.
Maryland continued to chip away in the third quarter, cutting the lead to one multiples times, but the final minutes of the frame belonged to the Wolfpack. NC State went on 8-0 to push the lead back out to nine, and Fraser stopped the run with a layup but was called for a technical foul after shouting at Akela Maize.
Leslie made both free throws, then Konig and Kai Crutchfield hit threes to extend the lead to 15. Charles hit a jumper on the next possession for her first points since the five minute mark of the first quarter, but Crutchfield answered back with another three to extend NC State’s lead to 56-40 at the end of the third quarter.
Fraser cut it to 11 with a three-point play with 4:58 to go, but the Wolfpack got three offensive rebounds on the next possession and Maize hit a jumper to put the game out of reach.
Maryland ends the season 26-8 overall, and will be watching the Sweet 16 at home for the second time in three years after making it at least that far the past four.
Three things to know
- Maryland tried to claw back, but the Wolfpack’s defense was eventually too much. The Terps had trouble solving NC State’s defense almost all game. Every time they tried to take the lead, the Wolfpack would bear down and go on a run to pull further ahead.
- Kiara Leslie was the best player on the court, and it wasn’t particularly close. The former Maryland guard said earlier this week this was just another game, but she didn’t play like it. She attacked the rim, hit threes, got in passing lanes and shut down Kaila Charles in the second half.
- No more basketball for a while. With Maryland losing two All-Americans and four players to transfer, expectations were lower than usual for Brenda Frese’s team. The Terps made up for their lack of depth by playing hard and not quitting in tough games. With a top-5 recruiting class and the top four scorers coming back, this team should be better next year.