Despite blowing a double-digit in the first half and falling behind in the third quarter, Maryland women’s basketball used a strong final 10 minutes to put away Penn State late, winning 79-67.
Much like the Terps’ first meeting with the Nittany Lions on Dec. 28, it was a close contest most of the way. But once again, Maryland dominated the fourth quarter to seal a double-digit win.
Fellow freshman Shakira Austin has taken the spotlight off of her, but Maryland’s most impressive newcomer this season has been Taylor Mikesell. And against Penn State, she had another impressive performance. Mikesell continued her dominance from beyond the arc, hitting five of her nine shots from long range. And she led the game in scoring with 23 points, a career high, and added six rebounds.
While Thursday’s blowout loss to Michigan State was uncharacteristic, perhaps nothing was more shocking than Kaila Charles’ complete disappearance. She scored just three points on 1-of-5 shooting, and she committed four fouls which led to a prolonged benching. But as the team looked to bounce back, so did its leading scorer. Charles finished third in the game with 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting, adding nine rebounds for a solid all-around effort.
Brianna Fraser had another solid game for Maryland, scoring in double figures once again. The senior center finished third on the team with 13 points, scoring efficiently on 55.5 percent shooting. Austin finished strong to total 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
The Terrapins had a decent day in terms of shooting the basketball, hitting 49.2 percent of their shots and 6-of-16 from beyond the arc. Those figures left something more to be desired, but it was better than the opposition. Even with their second-quarter outburst, the Nittany Lions shot just 35.9 percent from the floor and 31.6 from beyond the arc. Maryland was careless with the ball early on, committing eight turnovers in the first half alone. But after halftime, the Terrapins had just four giveaways and allowed the offense to really jell as the game wore on.
Mikesell and Charles dominated straight from tipoff, scoring the team’s first 11 points. The former kicked things off with a layup and a three-pointer back-to-back to give Maryland a 5-0 lead. And with under two minutes to go, the Terps used a 10-2 run to take a 21-8 lead into the second quarter.
It was early, but it seemed as though a blowout could be in the making. But Maryland’s offense was completely stymied in the second quarter, and six turnovers in the period alone were devastating. Penn State took advantage of the miscues, scoring 27 points to erase its deficit. Led by Siyeh Frazier’s nine points on 4-of-6 shooting, the Terrapins and Nittany Lions were deadlocked at 35 heading into the break.
The Terps scored four quick points to start the second half, but Penn State went on another run to take the lead. The Nittany Lions scored nine straight to pull ahead midway through the quarter. Fraser then stepped up for the second game in a row, scoring seven points in three minutes to buoy a Maryland run to take the lead. And after the Terps scored the final eight points of the quarter, they had a six-point advantage heading into the final frame.
It took five minutes, but Maryland found another signature fourth-quarter run to run away with the victory late. Up 66-60 with 4:42 to go, Charles and Austin combined for an 8-0 run to get a double-digit lead. Penn State pushed late, but they couldn’t close the gap enough in the waning minutes.
Maryland will be back in action on Thursday, Jan. 24, in Columbus against Ohio State. The Terps beat the Buckeyes at home 75-69 two weeks ago. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET and can be watched on the Big Ten Network.
Three things to know
1. Taylor Mikesell is legit. Mikesell has been a key cog for the team so far this season, but over the past few games, she has become the Terps’ go-to scorer. Needing a win on Sunday, the freshman dominated with 23 points, which led both teams. She was particularly effective from long range, hitting five of her nine shots.
2. Kaila Charles is back. She was never really gone to begin with, but Thursday’s performance was particularly worrisome. Yes, she got into foul trouble, but she was ineffective even when on the court. Against the Nittany Lions, though, Charles bounced back with 19 points and was efficient in doing so, hitting six of her 11 shots from the floor and making seven of her eight free throws.
3. Back in the win column. Losing is unfamiliar enough for Maryland, and dropping back-to-back games is virtually unheard of. The Terrapins were able to avoid doing so on Sunday, erasing a second-half deficit to get their 16th win of the season. The Big Ten might be tougher than it’s been in a while, but the Terps can and likely will continue to rack up conference victories.