Maryland will miss out on the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2011 after the Terps fell 74-65 to the Huskies Monday night at the Xfinity Center. A senior class with an overall record of 150-23 and an 82-7 record at home watched another team celebrate on their home court.
One of the big reasons that Maryland lost this game is because one of its star players, Brionna Jones, didn't have a good game. It was certainly a poor game by her standards. It took her a little more than 17 minutes to score her first basket in the game. She finished with four points on 2-for-7 shooting with six rebounds and four personal fouls. Maryland led the nation, both men and women, in rebounding margin. On Monday night, the Huskies out-rebounded them, outworked them and out-hustled them.
Jones is one of the best players in the country. She averaged 15.6 points per game and 9.9 rebounds a game this season, so Jones essentially averaged a double-double night in and night out. So how did Washington shut her down? That happened for a couple of reasons. Washington's game plan, and zone defense, was excellent and the Huskies' combination of length and size frustrated Maryland.
After she was asked why it took her so long to get going, Jones said, "I think it was frustration with some of the early calls and then not getting locked back in after that. They came out and they played a better game than us tonight...How physical they were. Battling against it. We just got outworked tonight...The better team won."
Chantel Osahor was a stout presence for Washington down low, and Jones said she had problems with Washington's size. "I was overthinking the game a little too much, thinking about their size, their length and their physicality."
The Terps had said over and over that this tournament run was dedicated to their seniors; the seniors that accomplished so much and meant even more to this program. Jones spoke for every player that will return for Maryland next season when she said, "The most disappointing part is letting our seniors down...It's tough seeing it end here for them."
Jones said she'll take this loss and use it as motivation for next year. After reaching the Final Four in her first two seasons, ending her junior year at home in the second round, after winning 31 games and the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles, was a rude awakening.
Jones has shown that she has the ability to dominate every time she steps on the court. If Maryland wants to make it back to the Sweet 16 next season, much less the Final Four, Jones will have to be a star every single night. She will have to be unstoppable because when she doesn't play well, Maryland can't play its style of basketball. When Maryland doesn't play its style of basketball in the NCAA Tournament, it's a recipe for an early exit.