Last season South Carolina came in to College Park and earned a key road victory over Maryland; and today, Maryland did the same in Columbia, earning a statement win 85-61 over the Gamecocks.
Maryland dominated in all facets of the game, displaying their size and length all over the court. Both teams familiar with one another, entered the matchup undefeated.
The Terps played a strong game both offensively and defensively throughout. Five different players finished in double figures for Maryland, with junior forward Blair Watson leading the way with 20. Junior guard Kaila Charles and freshman forward Shakira Austin finished with double-doubles.Austin is averaging a double-double on the season.
The Gamecocks came out of the gates hot jumping out to a 12-2 lead, forcing coach Brenda Frese to call timeout. After the timeout, coach Frese brought in her standout freshman forward Austin to provide more size and length. The Gamecocks were getting easy baskets in the paint, senior forward Alexis Jennings was having her way inside.
After trailing 18-8, freshman guard Taylor Mikesell got the Terps started on a 24-1 run to retake the lead 32-19. The key during the run was the Terps ability to score in the paint. Sophomore Channise Lewis found her teammates open in the paint, facilitating for eight of her career high 12 assists. Lewis found Jones and Austin several times in the paint during this run.
The second quarter allowed the Terps to continue building their run, converting on 10 second chance points compared to none for the Gamecocks. At the half, Maryland outrebounded South Carolina 26-14, which has been a common theme for the Terps this season.
In addition to their strong paint presence, the Terps began to pick up the defensive intensity in the ladder stages of the first quarter and into the second quarter. The Gamecocks only finished with seven second quarter points and shot 20 percent from the field. After starting out 8-11 from the field, the Gamecocks finished the half 4-25 from the field. Maryland capitalized on their close opportunities, shooting 51 percent in the first half.
After trailing by 19 to start the second half, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley had her squad pressing the Terps in the backcourt to start the second half. As a result of the intense defensive pressure, the Terps looked flustered turning the ball over several times giving the Gamecocks easy transition opportunities.
However, as the quarter progressed the Terps improved their ball security. Anytime it seemed like the Gamecocks and the crowd had a renewed energy the Terps would bounce back. To close out the third quarter, South Carolina did not score a point the final 4:38. Maryland’s strong defensive rotation and rebounding slowed down the Gamecock offense.
The Terps continued their strong play in the fourth quarter including a 13-0 run to extend their lead to 23. Watson hit several threes down the stretch, spotting up in different areas around the arc. Ultimately, Maryland outrebounded South Carolina 53-29 continuing their dominance on the glass.
Maryland will now travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico to take on Morgan State and No. 14 Georgia looking to extend their record to 6-0 beginning Friday.