For the first time in 2019, Maryland women’s basketball has lost. Following a three-game winning streak entering Thursday, the Terrapins fell in East Lansing to No. 17 Michigan State, 77-60.
The Spartans led from the jump, leading for all but 33 seconds of game time. They led by as many as 16 in the first quarter, and although Maryland made it a close game at halftime, Michigan State pulled away in the second half.
Despite owning a size advantage on Michigan State, Maryland was outrebounded handily by the Spartans. In the second half alone, the Spartans grabbed 25 rebounds to the Terrapins’ nine, which led to a 37-30 margin overall for the night.
After scoring a combined nine points over the past three games, Brianna Fraser came out of nowhere to be No. 9 Maryland’s leader in East Lansing. The senior center scored a game-high 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting, adding six rebounds to also lead the team. Fraser was fouled often, and she converted eight of her 13 shots from the line to add to her point total.
Taylor Mikesell was the only other player to hit double digits, scoring 12 points on nine shots from the floor. Two of the Terrapins’ most effective weapons were neutralized immediately. Leading scorer Kaila Charles managed just three points on 1-of-5 shooting, and standout freshman Shakira Austin failed to hit any of her four shots from the floor, finishing the night with just five rebounds.
Maryland’s start to the game was, in a word, atrocious. Stephanie Jones opened the game with a layup on the first possession, but the Spartans were lethal from beyond the arc. Michigan State’s 20-2 run over a six-minute span included four bombs from long range, and Jenna Allen scored 10 points by herself. Needing a spark, Fraser stepped up in a big way. The 6’4 center bullied her way inside time and time again, drawing fouls and converting from the charity stripe. Fraser had nine points in three minutes, cutting Maryland’s deficit to 25-15 at the end of the opening period.
In the second quarter, the Terrapins’ defense finally arrived. After shooting 64.3 percent from the field and making five of its seven attempts from long range in the first, Michigan State regressed heavily in the ensuing ten minutes. The Spartans made just 5 of 13 field goals, and they sank only one of their four three-pointers. That ineffectiveness opened the door for Maryland to cut its deficit, and that’s exactly what the No. 9-ranked team did. Down 31-20 with 4:27 left, the Terps went on a quick 7-0 run to cut the deficit to just four points. Taylor Mikesell hit the team’s first three-pointer with less than three minutes to play, and she followed that up with back-to-back layups late to make the score 37-34 heading into halftime.
Despite having a ton of momentum coming out of the break, Maryland’s reverted back to its first-quarter play. After holding the Spartans to 12 points in the second, the Terrapins couldn’t keep them from breaking out in the third period of play. Despite missing all four of its three-pointers, Michigan State hit eight of its 13 two-pointers. And thanks to Shay Colley, the team went 6-of-6 from the line.
Fraser was seemingly the only Terrapin to keep her high level of play after the break, scoring eight points on four shots in just six minutes of action. The only other Maryland players to score were Blair Watson and Stephanie Jones, who had three and two, respectively.
Staring down a 59-47 deficit entering the final period of play, Maryland failed to recapture that fourth-quarter magic that had led to wins over the past three games. The Terrapins never cut the score to single-digits, and they scored just 10 points in the first eight minutes of the quarter.
Maryland returns home Sunday to host Penn State, whom the Terps beat, 77-61, to start conference play on Dec. 28. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET and the game can be watched on ESPN2.
Three things to know
1. It was an awful start. Save for the game against Rutgers, Maryland’s starts haven’t necessarily mattered this season. Great opening quarters have often been cut down, and large deficits have been overcome. But on Thursday, the Terrapins dug themselves too deep a hole to climb out of. Seven minutes into the game, they were already staring down a daunting 20-4 disadvantage on the scoreboard, and despite nearly tying things up before halftime, they eventually failed to come back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter.
2. Brianna Fraser was terrific. Over the past three games, the senior hadn’t seen much playing time. Against Michigan on Saturday, she played only six minutes. But against the Spartans, Fraser was the best (and only) player to step up for Maryland. She scored 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the floor, and the 6’4 center was able to convert on eight of her 13 attempts from the free throw line.
3. The leaders were shut down. All season long, Maryland has been driven by the success of Kaila Charles, Stephanie Jones, Taylor Mikesell and Shakira Austin. On the season, they have combined for an average of 53.9 points per game, or 69.4 percent of the team’s overall scoring. On Thursday, that quartet managed just 24 points, and Charles and Austin scored three points combined on 1-of-9 shooting and added seven fouls between the pair.