It was an incredible season for Maryland women’s basketball. The Terps defended their Big Ten regular season and tournament titles, and finished 31-4.
But that fourth loss will sting for a long time. Maryland was upset by Washington in the second round of the Women’s NCAA Tournament on Monday night, 74-65. The Terps struggled to find their shot all night, and in times when they had always been able to right the ship, nothing went their way.
Kelsey Plum torched the Terps for 32 points, and Talia Walton added 20 for the No. 7 seed Huskies. Chantel Osahor was exceptional inside, hauling in 15 rebounds. Washington’s three best players all brought it. Maryland couldn’t say the same.
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough led No. 2 Maryland with 17 points and 11 rebounds, but didn’t have much backup. Brene Moseley scored 16 points, but she was 6-of-19 from the floor. As a whole, the team shot just 37.3 percent. Brionna Jones was almost nonexistent, recording just 4 points and 6 rebounds amidst a bout with foul trouble.
The shooting woes began early and recurred often. After the Terps jumped out to an 8-2 lead, Washington went on a 13-0 run. Maryland missed 11 consecutive shots over a scoreless drought of nearly six minutes, and was a porous 4-of-17 (23.5 percent) in the opening period. The five turnovers didn’t help, either.
Maryland trailed 19-11 after the first quarter, but an 8-0 run in the first three minutes of the second (including a pair of threes by Kristen Confroy) completely eradicated the deficit and prompted a Washington timeout. Several minutes of back-and-forth scoring ensued, with a late 7-0 spurt pushing the Terps in front heading into the half. Despite giving up a combined 21 points to Plum and Walton, Maryland entered the locker room up 34-29.
The Terps went stone cold for an extended section of the third, going scoreless over a four-minute stretch. Washington started the second half on a 14-4 run, which was spearheaded by Plum. Even after the Huskies’ offense cooled down some, Maryland still couldn’t get anything going. An 8-point third quarter left the Terps in a 49-42 hole through three.
It got even worse. With 5:48 remaining, Plum drove the lane and converted a 3-point play. The Washington lead was 60-49, and the Huskies were on an 8-0 run. This 11-point margin held until the 4:24 mark, when Walker-Kimbrough drained a long three. She sank another at the 3-minute mark to cut it to 5. But with 1:25 left, Walton drained a corner three and pushed it back up to 8. Onions.
The fouling game began in the last minute, but Washington made its free throws (and completed its inbound passes). Reality had set in well before the final buzzer, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.
Three things to know
1. Chantel Osahor played exceptional defense on Brionna Jones. The Huskies’ junior forward is unlike anything the Terps have seen all season. She’s an incredibly round figure who doesn’t jump, ever, but is always in good position and somehow only committed one foul in this game. Jones was 2-of-7 from the floor for 4 points in the biggest game of the season.
2. The Terps didn’t get to the foul line. Maryland only took five foul shots in the entire game. This was partly because the Terps settled for a ton of jumpers (they took 24 threes compared to just 6 on Saturday) and partly because the officials hardly ever whistled Washington for any fouls. Of course, Brenda Frese and company won’t make excuses. They just lost the game.
3. Game over, season over. Maryland was looking for its third straight Final Four appearance, and many thought the Terps had a real shot. But they couldn’t even get to Lexington. This one will hurt for a long while.