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No. 12 Maryland women’s basketball struggles in second half, falls to No. 24 Missouri State 81-72

The Terps built a lead early on, but a strong effort from the Bears out of the locker room stunted any Maryland momentum.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Maryland at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

With around two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of a close four-point contest between No. 12 Maryland women’s basketball and No. 24 Missouri State, Diamond Miller caught the ball on the wing, looking to capitalize on an aggressive back-and-forth scoring affair between both teams.

However, as the Terp sophomore drove to the basket, she was called for an extra step, adding another turnover to Maryland’s 23 on the day.

Maryland went cold from there, unable to score again until it was too late with 30 seconds left on the game clock in an 81-72 loss at the hands of the Bears in the Gulf Coast Showcase — its first defeat of the season.

Maryland, which tallied 64 points in the paint in its win over Davidson on Friday, spread out their buckets much more as it got off to a hot start in the first quarter.

After neither team scored for nearly the first two minutes, Katie Benzan was the first to open up the Terps’ scoring around the eight minute mark with a three-pointer from the wing.

Benzan then knocked down an additional three, going on to lead the Terps in first quarter scoring with eight.

“My teammates encouraged me to just keep shooting,” said Benzan, who finished the game with a team-high 16 points. “I was fortunate enough that they fell.”

Maryland freshman Angel Reese capped off a high scoring first quarter with a buzzer-beating layup to cap a 24-14 lead for the Terps.

The second quarter proved to just as productive for head coach Brenda Frese’s offense, as Maryland matched almost every bucket Missouri put up.

As Katie Benzan collected a rebound off a missed Missouri State field goal within the three minute mark of the second quarter, she lobbed it down the court to Angel Reese. Reese quickly dumped the ball off to Faith Masonius for the easy layup to extend Maryland’s lead, making it clear that the team had shaken of any offseason rust. The squad entered halftime with a 43-32 lead.

The beginning of the third quarter, however, was a much different story for the Terps as Missouri State stormed past a double-digit deficit to take its first lead of the game around the seven-minute mark.

Looking like a completely different team, Maryland was lost on offense at the start of the second half as it went 1-for-8 to open the period.

As it continued to be plagued by turnovers, Maryland squandered an opportunity to tie the game up as Faith Masonius was called for a travel to give the ball back to the Bears for a final possession in the third quarter.

“I thought we let our frustrations boil over,” said Frese, when asked about Maryland’s struggles after halftime. “We weren’t able to get stops on the defensive end, and right now we’re impatient on the offensive end.”

Missouri State, who took a lead around the seven minute mark of the quarter, outscored Maryland 23-9, holding on to a 55-52 lead by the start of the final period.

Ashley Owusu was able to kickstart a little bit of scoring for the Terps towards the beginning of the fourth, driving in for a layup and converting two free throws within the the first two minutes. And after getting a defensive stop, Maryland charged down the floor for a Lewis three-pointer to tie the game at 59.

After giving up a layup on the following defensive possession, Maryland hit another three via Katie Benzan to give Maryland their first since the third quarter. The lead was short lived however, as Missouri stormed back to take a 70-64 advantage as time wound down in the fourth.

Mimi Collins was able to put Maryland back within striking distance, hitting a mid-range jumper before a timeout was called at the 3:34 mark, making it 70-66 in favor of the Bears. Collin’s bucket wasn’t enough to keep things going though, as a crucial travel called on Diamond Miller stopped any Maryland momentum.

Missouri State took advantage of the turnover and outscored Brenda Frese’s squad 11-6 in the remaining three minutes to hand Maryland its first defeat.

“Unfortunately a game takes forty minutes not just twenty,” said Frese. “The punch that they gave us took our will and our spirit away in the third quarter.”

Three Things to Know

1. The Terps turned over the ball more. The team had 10 total turnovers in its victory over Davidson on Friday, but it had already surpassed that by halftime with 11 through the first two quarters.

“I thought it was just us being impatient,” said Brenda Frese. “I think we were trying to do it all at once.”

Maryland finished with 23 turnovers on the day, many of which seemed to halt any offensive momentum for the team, especially in the second half.

2. Maryland spread out the scoring. Parallel to Friday’s win over Davidson where all but one player on Brenda Frese’s roster tallied points, Maryland spread out it’s scoring once again with eight players recording points throughout the game, five of which were in double digits. Despite the lack of offensive production in the loss, head coach Brenda Frese will surely look to take advantage of her scoring arsenal in the next game against Arkansas.

3. The team came out strong defensively. Despite playing with a faster pace, Maryland allowed just 14 first quarter points to the Bears after leading just 19-15 after the first frame Friday against Davidson. Angel Reese’s defense proved to be a bright spot for the team, as she was responsible for three out of Maryland’s four blocks in the game. The strong defensive effort combined with more offensive conversions to give the Terps a 24-14 advantage to build off of Saturday.

“We gotta get better at moving our feet and make sure we’re quicker,” Channise Lewis said in regards to the defensive adjustments the team needs to make to prevent late game surges like today’s.