With 21 seconds remaining in the first half of No. 9 Maryland’s matchup with Loyola (Md), sophomore guard Taylor Mikesell received a kick-out pass from Stephanie Jones and smoothly drained her fifth shot from beyond the arc of the first half — capping off a 30-7 second quarter Maryland run.
The Terps never looked back, taking a dominant 105-45 win over the Greyhounds Sunday afternoon to bounce back from their second loss of the season.
“Seeing the ball go through the hoop, honestly, is a big confidence booster,” Mikesell said. “But, just playing through my teammates and starting on the defensive end was the biggest thing for me and my teammates today.”
Things began quickly for Maryland, as Mikesell got off to a much-needed hot start, making her first two shot attempts and going 3-of-4 from long-range in the first 4:35 of the game.
Maryland found itself leading 20-10 after the first 10 minutes of play, but buckled down and used the second quarter run to spread the game out even further.
The Terps started pushing the ball just over a minute into the quarter, as freshman guard Ashley Owusu took the ball down quickly and dumped it off to fellow freshman Diamond Miller, who finished with a layup of her own.
A series of driving layups by Owusu, Charles and Mikesell came in quick succession, as senior Sara Vujacic then stepped up and hit a three-pointer from the left wing.
The Terps carried a 50-17 lead into the half behind 60 percent shooting from the field — including a 6-of-9 mark from long range.
Owusu continued the fast pace in the second half, driving to the hole and sinking a layup while drawing a foul against the Greyhounds. Despite missing the free throw attempt, Maryland was able to embark on a 8-0 run in the first 2:17 of the second half.
With just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter, Maryland had a comfortable 71-25 lead but wasn’t slowing down anytime soon. Jones was able to come up with a steal, pass the ball off to Miller, bring in an offensive rebound and finish with contact inside. The Terps ultimately had an 80-31 lead after the third quarter thanks to nine points in the period from Jones.
The fourth quarter also started off strong, as sophomore center Shakira Austin backed down her opponent in the paint, converted a spin shot with contact and knocked down her own and-one chance on the Terps’ first possession.
“Shakira just played with a higher level of patience and poise,” Frese said. “She just kind of slowed herself down in this game and really [made] the right decision — whether it was playing through contact or making a great assists for a teammate.”
As Loyola began to sink some shots despite the scoreline, the Terps applied even more pressure on the defensive end with a full-court press and quick transition offense, rather than slowing things down.
Maryland head coach Brenda Frese called a timeout with 5:48 remaining, as the game became more of a back-and-forth affair.
At the 4:28 mark, Mikesell took a pass from senior Kaila Charles, stepped up and nailed a three-point shot from the right wing — setting a new career-high with her sixth make from beyond the arc of the afternoon.
The sophomore’s three-pointer was part of an 18-1 run over the last 4:30 for the Terps to close out the victory, re-asserting themselves in a big way.
“[The final run] came down to us just locking in,” Jones said. “There was a second where we kind of relaxed a little bit, so getting back to focusing on our defense and making plays [was key].”
Three things to know
1. Maryland was able to impose itself inside. After struggling to rebound and convert inside against NC State, the Terps finished Sunday’s matchup with a +31 rebounding margin and 56 points in the paint.
“Just going off from the NC State game, us being negative in rebounds, we’ve been enforcing [rebounding] all season,” Austin said. “...for it to drop that low we just knew we had to pick it up and make sure we were able to enforce it on this game so we can keep it up for [conference play].”
In the first half, Maryland led 24-9 in the rebounding department — with Austin tallying seven in the first 20 minutes — and had 20 points in the paint as a team.
2. Both sophomores had dominant performances. Following Maryland’s second loss of the season, Mikesell and Austin responded in a big way on Sunday afternoon. Mikesell broke her career-high for three pointers in a game with six made on the afternoon en route to a 20-point performance. Austin tallied 25 points and 13 rebounds on 11-13 shooting to notch her second double-double of the season.
3. The Terps suffocated the Greyhounds early with strong defense. Maryland was able to use its defense to spark its offense — holding Loyola to 28 percent shooting from the floor and allowing just one conversion on nine three-point attempts in the first half. The Greyhounds ended the contest shooting just 32.7 percent from the floor and 13.3 percent from long range.
The Terps also forced their opponent into 25 turnovers, converting 30 points of their own from those mistakes.