Sophomore guard Blair Watson pulls up to shoot the ball outside the circle during Maryland's 91-58 win over Albany. (Joel Valley/The Left Bench)

Terps no longer perfect in conference play as they get upset without Watson

The Maryland Terrapins women’s basketball teams suffered terrible news in practice on Wednesday as star forward Blair Watson suffered a torn ACL and was declared out for the remainder of the season. Without Watson on the court Thursday night, theTerps suffered their first Big Ten defeat of the season against the Michigan State Spartans, 82-68.

Watson’s absence made a huge difference for Maryland (15-3, 4-1) as her scoring ability seemed to spark a lot of runs for the Terps in previous games. Without her, Maryland struggled to create offense having one of the worst shooting performances of the season as the team only shot 29 percent from beyond the arc.

“Everybody steps up when their number is called,” said sophomore guard Kaila Charles. “It’s just that today wasn’t one of those days. We just have to make sure that we’re playing a hard 40 minutes.” Charles led the team in rebounds with 11 but couldn’t pick up the slack in scoring only shooting 36 percent from the field.

Watson was the most improved scorer in the Big Ten and third in the conference in three pointers. Her impact also stretched to the defensive end of the floor, as her team high 39 steals on the season helped to propel fast breaks and work the floor with their full court press.

However, where you usually see Maryland wreaking havoc on the defensive end with their patented full court press, it was the Spartans who gave the Terps all they could handle, forcing them into a season high 24 turnovers on the night.

“Fifteen assists to 24 turnovers is a very uncharacteristic stat line for us and something we pride ourselves in.” Head coach Brenda Frese said.“We felt like we needed to shoulder the load tonight and obviously we paid for that.”  Maryland was 26th in assist to turnover ratio in the country going into this game.

Michigan State (13-5, 3-2) was led by Taryn McCutcheon who had a strong night  hitting on six three-point shots. . She led the Spartans in scoring with a career high 25 points.

The small roster of Maryland did not benefit from Watson’s injury as it spread them even thinner than they were before, with now only seven players available.. With limited options, the Terps struggled to get the ball in the basket as only Brianna Fraser shot over 50 percent from the field. Fraser would finish with a team high 17 points and nine rebounds.

This game marked the first conference loss for the Terps that was not to a team named the Ohio State Buckeyes. . This also happened to be the first time the Terrapins have ever lost to the Spartans, as they won the last 10 games against them.

This was one of the only games this season that Maryland was outscored in every single quarter as they couldn’t seem to ever get going on either side of the court.

“There’s a flow to when you’re playing this many games and so it’s going to take some time to get rhythm and consistency back.” Frese said.

Maryland will have a five day break to figure out what went wrong before the Indiana Hoosiers come into town on January 16th.