For the second time in as many years, Maryland women’s basketball’s season is over in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, as the No. 3-seed Terps fell 85-80 to No. 6-seeded UCLA on Monday night in College Park.
The Bruins’ physicality was too much for the Terrapins to handle in the first half, and despite taking a five-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Big Ten regular-season champs couldn’t capitalize down the stretch. Maryland scored just nine points in the final frame, and the Bruins made the plays late.
UCLA entered the game as the fifth-best team in the nation in offensive rebounding, averaging 17 boards per game on that end of the court. The Bruins corralled a staggering 27 on Monday, leading to 27 second-chance points.
Maryland has struggled containing dominant scorers all season, and UCLA’s Michaela Onyenwere torched the Terps on Monday night. She scored 30 points on 12-of-23 shooting and added eight rebounds, while Japreece Dean had 22 and Kennedy Burke added 19.
Kaila Charles had foul trouble in the first half, but came out firing in the second half to finish with 23 points on 9-of-20 shooting from the field with eight rebounds. Stephanie Jones was terrific early, scoring 15 first-half points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field. But she picked up her third and fourth fouls late and wasn’t able to contribute with the game on the line. Shakira Austin recorded 15 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. Taylor Mikesell had 14 points but went 1-of-6 from three, and Maryland went 1-of-13 as a team.
Jones kicked the game off with a midrange jumper, and she scored 13 of the team’s first 16 points to keep the score tied through six-plus minutes of action. But led by Onyenwere, the Bruins finished the first quarter on a 10-4 run to take a 26-20 lead into the next period.
In the second quarter, it was more of the same for UCLA, as it was carried by the duo of Onyenwere and Japreece Dunn, who combined for 25 first-half points. The latter was particularly effective from long range, sinking 3-of-5 attempts from beyond the arc. Maryland trailed by as many as eight points with four minutes to go in the half, but six late points from Austin cut the score to 44-40 by halftime.
Perhaps buoyed by a halftime speech from Frese, Maryland stormed out of the gates coming out of the break. The Terps started on a 7-0 run to take a three-point lead in the first 50 seconds of play. UCLA gained its composure following a timeout, and the teams traded baskets in what was the highest-scoring quarter by far. Nine straight points by Dean allowed the Bruins to take a 62-61 lead with just under four minutes remaining, but Charles and the Terps closed the period on a 10-4 run to take a five-point lead into the final period.
Maryland held a 76-74 lead with with 6:45 to go, but at that point, the offense stagnated and the defense was taken advantage of inside to allow the Bruins to retake the lead. Down the stretch, the visitors were able to capitalize from the free-throw line, while Maryland struggled mightily to take the free opportunities they were given from the charity stripe.
The Terrapins finish the season with a 29-5 record and a 15-2 record at the Xfinity Center, but that second loss will be the takeaway from this year. And in her final season in College Park, Brianna Fraser’s career is over. She finished with five points and four rebounds.
Three things to know
1. The season is over. Despite earning a top-three seed in the NCAA Tournament and being ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll for most of the season, Maryland’s season has ended. After falling to NC State in the second round of the tourney last season in Raleigh, the team stressed the importance of getting home-court advantage in the first two rounds of March Madness. But that didn’t matter, as the Bruins flew to College Park and will be heading to Albany while the Terps won’t get a chance to move on.
2. Kaila Charles woke up after the break. Brenda Frese has been notoriously conservative with players in foul trouble this season, and when Charles picked up her second foul with over five minutes to go in the first half, the coach had no qualms about taking her star player off the court. The decision seemingly paid off, as the junior erupted for 15 third-quarter points to finish with a team-high 23 on the night.
3. UCLA dominated on the offensive glass. The Bruins are the fifth-best team in the nation on the offensive glass, so it wasn’t a surprise to see them have a ton of second-chance opportunities, particularly in the first half. But the sheer amount of offensive rebounds was mind-boggling, and the 27-19 difference in second-chance points was greater than the final margin.